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It's about time more efforts were made to preserve the history-in-the-making that is contemporary Christian music. A natural tendency in mainstream circles, several artists have recently scored hits by recording cover albums of songs first popularized in the 1940s (Rod Stewart), 50s and 60s (Barry Manilow), and 60s and 70s (Michael McDonald's Motown albums). Such a practice feeds artists and audiences alike, paying tribute to an inspiring past while rediscovering the music's relevance today.
Now, premier Christian vocal group Avalon gives new voice and a debt of gratitude to various landmark faith-driven songs of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s on its ninth studio project Another Time, Another Place: Timeless Christian Classics. And quite serendipitously, the process has blessed Avalon's members beyond all expectations they had at the outset.
"These are songs that first made us want to do what we're doing today," says Greg about their take on the works of Amy Grant ("Thy Word," "El Shaddai"), Michael W. Smith ("Place in This World"), Steven Curtis Chapman ("For the Sake of the Call"), and others. Melissa remembers singing "The Basics of Life" (4Him) during her high school days and taking her first solo on "Friend of a Wounded Heart" (Wayne Watson).
For Janna, a founding member of Avalon, the memories have much to do with the group's own story. While Another Time, Another Place focuses most on music that pre-dates Avalon's existence, the group does cover "People Get Ready . . . Jesus Is Comin,'" the 1996 hit by Crystal Lewis.
"We were on tour, opening for Crystal, when that song was so big," recalls Janna. "It was her encore every night. And during that tour, she won the Dove Award for Female Vocalist and we won New Artist. It was so fun and exciting. 'People Get Ready' holds a lot of meaning."
Even more special is Avalon's passionately charged-up version of Twila Paris' "God Is In Control," a hands-down favorite among the group members. "Our very first tour was opening and singing background vocals for Twila," says Janna. "It was amazing, having the chance to spend time with her early in our career, to be getting pearls of wisdom from such a seasoned artist."
Equally excited that the group selected her song for inclusion on Another Time, Another Place, Paris comments, "More than a decade ago, Avalon and I toured together for almost an entire year," she says. "They sang 'God Is In Control' with me, and it hasn't sounded as good since... until now! I'm honored that they've chosen to record it on this new project."
Another excellent addition to the album is Sandi Patty's song, title track and radio single, "Another Time, Another Place." "I am excited not only to have re-recorded 'Another Time, Another Place,' but also that it is the title of our new record," says Janna. "This was and is such a beautiful song about the hope of glory we have in Christ. To know that this broken world we live in is not the end for us as believers but merely a 'passing through' is very comforting."
Other standouts on the project, produced by Shaun Shankel (Hilary Duff, Natalie Grant), include "Praise the Lord" (The Imperials),"The Reason We Sing" (First Call) and "People Need The Lord" (Steve Green).
Steve Green remarks on his song "People Need The Lord," "Even though I've sung the song at almost every concert for the past 23 years, it still touches a tender place in my soul. Perhaps it's the acknowledgement of dependency upon God, certainly for the gift of His grace, but also for every step of this spiritual journey. Hearing Avalon's rendition was moving. A timeless message to a new generation. Thank you Avalon."
Janna concludes, "We went into the studio and discovered just how well-written these songs were and how talented the original artists really are. These songs are timeless."
Avalon formed in 1996, setting a high standard in contemporary Christian music. Reviewing its 2006 project Faith: A Hymns Collection, All Music Guide noted "the vocal efficiency and personalized stylings that place Avalon among the elite singing groups in contemporary Christian circles." To date, the quartet has sold more than three million albums, charted 20 No. 1 singles, and won an American Music Award plus numerous Dove Awards such as the 1999 Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year for "Testify To Love." That song, a listener favorite, has also been specially re-recorded for Another Time, Another Place. And when the next generation of Christian performers look back at the artists who influenced their path, perhaps even paying tribute to them on record, look for the name Avalon.
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God Is In Control
For The Sake Of The Call
Another Time, Another Place
Solid As The Rock
People Get Ready... Jesus Is Comin'
The Basics Of Life
We Will Stand (feat. Russ Taff)
The Reason We Sing
Friend Of A Wounded Heart
Place In This World
People Need The Lord
Testify To Love (New Version)
Praise The Lord (Compact Disc-Only Bonus Download)
Avalon [Another Time, Another Place]| Posted September 24, 2008
I have to be honest. When it comes to Avalon, I have not been as impressed with their latter albums. I did not like ‘Hymns’ at all. But with the new release, I have to say that I am very impressed. Even with the departure of Jody McBrayer, Avalon doesn’t miss as beat. Even before I listened to Christian music, some of these songs on the album were songs I had heard on mainstream radio. Michael W. Smith was the one I heard the most. Avalon covers one of his songs on the record with, “Place In This World”. I loved this song, and even though I didn’t know what a Christian was when I was 12, or did I know who Michael W. Smith was, this was definitely one of my favorite songs from the early 90’s.
The title track, “Another Time, Another Place” is another song that recently I have become acquainted with. There is a popular show on the Gospel Music Channel that comes on called ‘Best of the Dove Awards’. Recently and episode ran that featured songs from Sandi Patty’s career. One was a video of her duet with Wayne Watson. The song has a very powerful message and I think everyone can relate to it from one time to another.
The artist who is covered most on this album is none other then Amy Grant. I think the group were influenced by Amy in some way or another, but the covers of her two songs, “El Shaddai” and “Thy Word” are done very well. “El Shaddai” is another one of those songs I remember vaguely from the 80’s.
There were three songs on the album that stood out to me, and were, in my opinion the staples of this album. First off there was Avalon’s rendition of “God Is In Control”, by Twila Paris. The second, Crystal Lewis’ “People Get Ready” and the third one was “People Need The Lord”. In my mind, these three stood out from among the rest.
Overall, this record was fun to listen to. I am a sucker for a good cover, so Avalon’s approach sucked me in from the get-go. I would definitely refer this album to anyone who likes the group, or perhaps just wants to be reminded of the hits of Christian music yesteryear. Be sure to look for Avalon’s new studio album, coming out later this year or early 2009!
If you are an Avalon fan or a fan of Christian music yesteryear, this is the album to get!
Rating: 9.2 out of 10 (92%, A-)
Review written by: Jay Heilman
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totally wicked awesome !| Posted October 07, 2008
i love Avalon!!!! They are vibrant, passionate, beautiful, and glorifying to God. each song is unique and well written.... Great cd and i am excited for more !!!!!!!!!
lOVE IT!!! LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!| Posted September 24, 2008
I love this ablum.... really good and i would listen to it over and over!!!!! really awesome cd!!!! love it, love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Music for another time and another place.| Posted May 28, 2008
I have been a fan of Avalon for a long time. In the late 1990s, "A Maze of Grace" had almost permanent residence in my CD player. However, Avalon isn't what it once was. It seems that, with each replacement member, the quality of their sound has gone downhill. No offense to Melissa and Greg, but I miss Michael and Nikki (or even Cheri). These concerns plague Avalon's remakes of Christian music classics and I find myself longing for the originals.
However, there are a few excpetions. I actually prefer the Avalon versions of "For the Sake of the Call," "Friend of a Wounded Heart" and "Thy Word." Each seems to improve on the original.
At times, Avalon oversells the remakes. "God is in Control" is one such example. Imagine Aretha Franklin singing a Carley Simon hit. Other examples include "The Reason We Sing" (imagine First Call on steroids) and "Basics of Life."
Other times, I don't like the remake because I didn't like the original (my apologies to Crystal Lewis, but "People Get Ready Jesus is Coming" is one such example.
I miss the glory days of Avalon. This CD is for another time and another place.
Refreshing!!| Posted May 22, 2008 Another Time, Another Place: Timeless Christian Classics is an awesome collection of the best CCM hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s all redone in true Avalon style! With chart-topping songs like "For The Sake Of The Call" (Steven Curtis Chapman), "The Basics Of Life" (4Him), the moving ballad "Another Time, Another Place" (Sandy Patti, Wayne Watson), and the electronically-influenced, uptempo favorite "God Is In Control" (Twila Paris), there's no doubt that Avalon is as good as ever with this stunning compilation of CCM favorites. Other highlights include the beautifully-done "Thy Word" and the acoustic "El Shaddai" (both originally from Amy Grant), as well as the rock-type new version of Avalon's own "Testify To Love". Overall, Another Time, Another Place is a definite must-buy, with Avalon's trademark harmonies updating classic songs of faith in their own unique way for a whole new generation to enjoy!! This is A+ Avalon!!
Timeless Classics from AVALON| Posted April 30, 2008
Awesome, Awesome, Awesome is all i have to say about this cd from Avalon. Avalon has remade great songs in a way that only they can do. I love each and every one of the songs they picked and how they remade it. I highly recommend this cd for those who enjoy the classics (like i do) and for those who love Avalons style of music. You won't regret having this cd in your music library.