Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

1 Comment


Revival – Third Day (Deluxe Edition)

As Third Day looked to celebrate their 25th anniversary as a band, they fulfilled a long-time plan to record a project at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The band (lead vocalist Mac Powell, guitarist Mark Lee and drummer David Carr), recorded with members of their touring band (keyboardist Scotty Wilbanks, mandolin/banjo/guitarist Trevor Morgan and bassist Tim Gibson). For this “back to their roots” album, the band reunited with producer Monroe Jones, who had worked with Third Day on six previous albums. Jones invited percussionist Ken Lewis to join the sessions and recruited Vance Powell to engineer the album.
The album has an almost “live” feel to it. The songs are simple lyrically, with about half of the songs being written before the band went into the studio and the other half just ideas that principal songwriter Mac Powell had.
On this album, Third Day brings it all together. Mac Powell has one of the best voices in music. Here the musical backing is worthy of his strong baritone, with strong guitars, drums, Hammond organ, horns, backing vocals, and crystal-clear production. Throw in some harmonica, tambourine, finger snaps and hand claps and this is truly a gem. It’s a multi-genre album – combining rock, southern rock, blues, soul, worship and gospel. I loved it from start to finish, and it’s my top album of the year thus far.
Here are a few brief comments on each song:

Revival – This was the first single released from the album and it is instantly likeable. It features a great vocal from Powell, plus piano, horns and backing vocals. It’s just a great overall song. Key lyric: God is gonna move and there ain’t no doubt.   

Gonna Be There With Me – This joyful song finds Powell singing over piano, guitar, backing vocals, steel guitar and horns. It features brief piano and guitar solos.  Key lyric: Lord, it’s always good to know that You’re gonna be there with me.  Continue reading

Leave a comment


The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966 Concert – Bob Dylan

The album’s rather strange title is based on the fact that for decades a famous Bob Dylan bootleg known as The Royal Albert Hall Concert was incorrectly labelled, having actually been a performance at the Manchester Free Trade Hall on May 17, 1966.  That performance was officially released in 1998 as The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live, 1966: The “Royal Albert Hall Concert”. This is actually the recording of the Royal Albert Hall concert, recorded May 26, 1966, and originally recorded by Dylan’s CBS label for a live album. This is the 2-CD version, which is also included in the massive 36-CD 1966 Live Recordings box set.
From a historical context, Dylan was fresh off of the release of his classic Blonde on Blonde double album just ten days prior to the concert. His set included material from his incredible trio of albums from that period Bringing It All Back Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde.
The first CD is the acoustic set and contains seven songs, including an epic version of “Desolation Row”. Dylan’s voice sounds great, and he is backed only by his acoustic guitar and harmonica. The sound quality is excellent, and you hear the crowd’s appreciative but somewhat restrained applause.
The second CD is the electric set and has Dylan backed by the Hawks, who would become better known as The Band. The sound quality is not as a good as the acoustic set for some reason. The set begins with Dylan and the Hawks ripping into “Tell Me Momma”, a song he would never release a studio version of, and would play only 15 times on the 1966 tour, the final time being the concert after this one at the Royal Albert Hall. The music is raw and intense, led by Robbie Robertson’s guitar, and Dylan’s expressive vocals, spitting out the lyrics, quite a difference from the acoustic set. The crowd is energized and you hear Dylan interacting with them, stating before the start of a blistering “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”, “Are you talking to me?  Come on up here and say that”. The blistering eight-song electric set ends with “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Like a Rolling Stone”.
Recommended for Dylan fans and music fans who might not already have heard the earlier The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live, 1966: The “Royal Albert Hall Concert”. Continue reading


My Review of the Book “Pentecostal Outpourings” and Interview with one of the Authors

Pentecostal OurpouringsBook Review:

Pentecostal Outpourings: Revival and the Reformed Tradition by Michael A. G. Haykin, Robert Davis Smart and Ian Hugh Clary. 280 pages.  Reformation Heritage Books.  2016.

This book details exciting historical accounts of revivals. All you have to do is to look at today’s headlines to see that our nation desperately needs revival. But what is biblical revival? Is it a planned, man-centered event, such as “Revival – Saturday Night”?  No, as one of the editors and contributors of this volume, Robert Smart writes, the intent of the book is to “Promote the knowledge of God, the gospel of Christ, and the great outpourings of the Spirit through a variety of Reformed authors reflecting and applying historical and biblical lessons for today’s Christian leader.”

The authors, who include Steven Lawson (Foreword), Joel Beeke, Michael Haykin, Iain Campbell, Tom Nettles and others, put forth the view that revival is “a sovereign gift from God in which, for a special season, His normal and true work of advancing His kingdom is sped up or quickened so that more is accomplished through His servants in a shorter period of time.” The authors take special care to demonstrate that revivals are mixed with counterfeit Christianity and require wise leadership.

Each chapter in this well-written book features a different Reformed tradition, historical context, and regional culture where revival occurred, yet each fits within an overall Reformed and biblical interpretation of revival. Part one of the book looks at revival in the British Isles, while part two looks at revival in America. I enjoyed reading about the men associated with these revivals. Jonathan Edwards, who even in his own time was known as the “theologian of revival” for both the First and Second Great Awakenings; George Whitfield and Asahel Nettleton, are also well-known, but most such as Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen are not so familiar. Frelinghuysen has been described both as a forerunner and a catalyst of the Great Awakening. Fortunately, this book tells the stories of some of these more obscure leaders for modern readers.

Smart concludes the book by stating that the authors of the book call for Reformed leaders to “grab the baton of leadership and finish the race with continuity and zeal, and a greater understanding of previous revivals will encourage them to do this.” He asks all to join in asking God for both reformation and revival.

I was surprised to read that by the end of the eighteenth century, only 10 percent of the population of the growing American nation was in fellowship with a local congregation.  Might that be where our nation is heading?  As one of the authors of this book states, our only spiritual hope for true revival is to turn to the God of revival.

Interview with Dr. Robert Davis Smart on the new book Pentecostal Outpourings

Dr. Bob SmartPastor Bob Smart has been my pastor for more than twenty-one years. Throughout that time he has had a heart for, and prayed fervently for biblical revival. That’s one of the reasons I was pleased to see this new book on revival which details exciting historical accounts.  I recently had an opportunity to talk to Dr. Smart about this new book.

Continue reading