DVD Review: Gaither Vocal Band (Give It Away)

RATING: 5 Stars

Label: Gaither Music Group
Producer: Bill Gaither
Song Titles: “Bread Upon The Water,” “I Catch ‘Em, God Cleans ‘Em,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “I’ll Tell It Wherever I Go,” “My Journey To The Sky,” “The Old Gospel Ship (Gordon Mote),” “If They Could See You Through My Eyes (Gordon Mote),” “Through,” “Glorious Impossible,” “Worthy The Lamb,” “Eagle Song,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Back Home Again In Indiana (Voices Of Lee),” “Love Can Turn The World,” “Glory, Glory Clear The Road (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound),” “Heavenly Parade (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound),” “Child Forgiven,” “I Will Go On,” “Down From His Glory (Larry Wayne Morbitt),” “Place Called Hope,” and “Give It Away”

The DVD version of Give It Away by the Gaither Vocal Band contains 14 of the 15 songs found on the CD by the same title. (The exception is “Why Me,” which I considered to be the weakest cut on the CD, so in my opinion, this was a good move.) The songs come in the same sequence as the CD, interestingly enough. The DVD also features group interviews; performances by special guests Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, the Voices Of Lee, GVB band member Gordon Mote, and Larry Wayne Morbitt; and footage from various locations including a lake and a shower stall. (I’m not kidding.) The performance footage was filmed at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis, IN.

The Gaither Vocal Band is one of the few groups that can put ANY other performer on the same stage, and as long as the quality is there, the fans don’t take offense or find the stylistic diversity to be too much. A case in point is Larry Wayne Morbitt, a Broadway star, who renders “Down From His Glory” in a fashion that would satisfy any opera fan. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the song uses the same tune as “O Sole Mio” (an opera standard written in 1898). Morbitt gets a standing ovation from the crowd that came to hear the Gaither Vocal Band. In general, all of the guest performers enhance rather than detracting from the GVB, although Gordon Mote does steal the show with an amazing piano break on “The Old Gospel Ship.”

The closing title track epitomizes the entire DVD as the GVB is joined by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound on stage, Bill Gaither throws his coat into the crowd, Marshall Hall ends up standing on a table in the audience, ticker tape rains down from the ceiling, and the crowd goes wild. If forced to pick a favorite track, I would probably choose “I Catch ‘Em, God Cleans ‘Em.” This is a fun song with a Lousiana/Country beat that features Guy Penrod and has a break for Mote to show off his piano skills. Other highlights include Marshall Hall’s soulful “Jesus Loves Me,” Wes Hampton‘s cover of “I’ll Tell It Wherever I Go,” and “Eagle Song,” a tune written by Russ and Tori Taff that was originally recorded by the Imperials. “Glorious Impossible” is a stylistic departure from the norm for the GVB that leads nicely into “Worthy The Lamb.”

Give It Away is top notch, not only in terms of production quality, but also in terms of song selection, flow, and the talent pool. I like the CD, though I complained in my CD review about a lack of stylistic consistency. The DVD overcomes this perceived flaw by offering more songs, but it also transcends the CD in other areas. The Vocal Band is loose on the DVD…still polished, but exploring more vocal territory…now firmly hitting their stride with new member Wes Hampton. I particularly enjoyed the infectious energy generated in part by the full band in a live setting (including a section of brass instruments). There’s also an element of fun on Give It Away, the DVD, that didn’t quite come through on Give It Away, the CD. If you liked the CD, you should still buy the DVD so you can hear and see the same music taken to a new level with lots of “bonus footage” in terms of interviews, songs not found on the CD, etc.

Regarding actual bonus footage, there’s about an hour’s worth of behind the scenes material and a song by the Voices Of Lee that didn’t make the final cut. This is in addition to the nearly two hours of concert footage, interviews, and special cutaway material that constitute the main portion of the DVD.

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Category DVD Review

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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