Fred Hammond's latest foray into the urban praise and worship genre he helped create and define is his most diverse and fascinating outing yet. The young and energetic, 20-voice ensemble Radical for Christ has proven to be the most effective and engaging of the several vehicles through which Hammond channels his voluminous creative output.
In Hammond and RFC's 1995 ground-breaker, Praise in the House, well-worn war-horses of the previously Anglo genre of praise and worship music were rebirthed with a joyous urban spin.
This time out, Hammond and the group clearly feel more at ease rocking, rolling, hipping and hopping. But strong, worshipful ballads and anthems figure in just as prominently. While P&W standards were a large part of the first project, original material is the meat-and-potatoes of Pages of Life. The live disc Chapter II contributes five new songs and in-concert takes of four of the first volumes stand-outs, and adds the congregational excitement inherent in the genre.
Hammond has spent most of his decade-plus career broadening the definition of gospel music. In the mid-80s, with his first group, Commissioned, he added contemporary R&B to the mix, proving that funky and faithful need not be mutually exclusive terms. Two solo projects in the early 90s elevated him to a pedestal of pre-eminence on which he remains to this day.
With an ear for the sounds of the street, and a heart deeply rooted in the church, Fred Hammond continues to confidently and convincingly go where none have gone before.
And all the people say, amen. -- Gordon Ely (c) 1998 CCM Communications, Inc. -- From CCM Magazine -- Subscribe Now!