Not sure if you've heard yet, but this whole iTunes thing is doing pretty good for itself. Not only are you able to pick up cheaper, no-frills copies of music instantly when you're short on cash, but the latest trends are for bands to release exclusive content only for sale on iTunes. Christian music's sextet powerhouse group MercyMe are the latest to jump on the band wagon.
The intriguing thing about this digital dish is that the songs are essentially just a "Best of MercyMe" collection, but in between each song is an interview with the guys. They explain the background of many of the songs that Christian radio listeners have grown to love.
One of the most interesting stories is the one told for "I Can Only Imagine." After writing the song for an independent release, it was passed on for Amy Grant to record. Shortly thereafter, MercyMe got their major label opportunity and Amy, having not released the song yet, graciously allowed the group to record it for their upcoming album knowing that this was a "career song." "I Can Only Imagine," "Bring The Rain," "So Long Self," "Finally Home," "God With Us," and "Won't Back Down" are all special live recordings just for this iTunes release. These songs don't stray very far from the original album versions, but obviously have a more live feel to them. "I Can Only Imagine," despite its massive amount of airplay, almost sounds fresh as it proves what a great song it really is.
The collection rounds out with a memorable interview about how MercyMe chooses to push the envelope in the other direction from what you hear in much of mainstream music and their commitment to that. It ends with a fun cover of Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down." Although it is a little disappointing that you don't find more new music (aside from the Tom Petty cover) on this inside look on the band, it still plays out to be a solid digital collection. The interviews and insight behind the songs enable an even deeper connection to many of these well known numbers. If you're a frequent Christian radio listener, then this is well worth your cash.- Review date: 6/5/08, written by Matt Johnson
Record Label: iTunes
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