In 1989, I purchased my first Newsboys album just because it had a cool title. I had never heard of the band before, but with a title like “Hell is for Wimps”, how I could I pass it up? Well….As a collection of songs inspired by hair bands of the day, “Wimps” wasn’t that great. I listened to it a few times and set it in my tape shelf to gather dust.
A few years later, the Newsboys had shed the hair band image and most of the guitars as well. They picked up a keyboard and took a few lessons from bands like Erasure and Information Society and created their first really good album. Not Ashamed became one of my favorite albums of all time.
Not Ashamed began a string of big records for the Newsboys that grew their fan base by leaps and bounds. By the mid 1990’s they had become one of the biggest names in Christian music. Things began to change however and with the departure of the singer John James (you can read is story here), Newsboys began to change their sound to a light hearted pop band with Peter Furler and Phil Joel trading vocals respectively.
The new millennium found the Newsboys sinking into relative mediocrity with many of their albums. Yes, they had a few memorable hits such as “It Is You” from their “Adoration” Cd and Million Pieces from Go. but for the most part their music had become predictable and forgettable.
But, if history is any predictor, one should not count the Newsboys out. Their new album Born Again has the remaining ‘boys joining forces with ex DC Talker Michael Tait. With Michael’s easily recognizable chops and an increase of a more modern guitar driven rock sound, the Newsboys has released their best album in years.
The album starts of with the rocker Born Again and steadily brings song after well crafted song. Some of the highlights include the song One Shot, Impossible, and When the Boys Light Up. And even thought I am not a big fan of Hillsongs, their rendition of Mighty to Save is admirable (truly Tait’s voice that makes it memorable). The last song on the “non-deluxe” version is a remake of the DC Talk classic Jesus Freak. I couldn’t help but wonder who’s idea it was to remake this classic. It is good, but this is one song that was so perfect the first time around, it should not be redone.
If you purchase the “deluxe” version from itunes, they so graciously add a few more songs. I highly recommend buying this version. “We Remember” and “Glorious” are worth the extra four dollars. They also include the digital booklet and the video to “Born Again”.
When all is said and done, my only big problem with the album is the length of most of the songs. The majority of the songs are less than 4 minutes long and some don’t even make to 3 minutes.
If early sales are any indication, this album is striking a nerve for Christian music buyers. It’s first week of sales was more successful than any other first week for the Newsboys. The iconic Michael Tait is a great addition to the iconic band. If you are looking for great summer music, load your ipod with this well crafted album.