Finding powerful worship albums is not that easy. You need a combination of great songwriting/selection, strong musicianship, hunger and responsiviness to the presence of God. Some worshipers are strong on one but weak on others. There are a lot of great worshipers in the Kansas City stream that tune into the presence of God, but it’s so free form that the music suffers a bit. On other hand, more typical is sacrificing the presence for perfection. Israel Houghton may be an example of this. If he would let the Spirit flow just a little more, I think his music would live up to its reputation. So here are my personal best “must own” worship albums:
Every discussion of worship music must start with Hillsong. Their music has completely redefined the genre, while everyone else runs to catch up. They have dozens of albums, most of which are better than almost any album by anyone else, however a few stand out for me:
1. You Are My World — This album flows so well, and leads into some very powerful worship songs like “All of my Days”, “You Are My World”, “Worthy Is The Lamb.” I actually played this album almost continuously for a year.
2. Savior King — After several albums that were great, that had amazing moments but didn’t quite hit the same peak as “You Are My World”, Hillsong came out with “Savior King.” It’s hard to believe how many songs with deep lyrics and poignant moments are on this album. Some of my favorites are “Hosanna”, “In Your Freedom”, and “Here In My Life.”
A few years ago the Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas put together a worship team including Rick Pino, Klaus Keuhn, and Kari Jobe and they struck gold. The two CFNI albums with this team together are very very good, and so are the DVD that come with them.
1. Glorious — This was the first and maybe better of the two. My favorite on this album is “Running” especially on DVD. She’s bringing this deep from the heart and you can feel it.
2. Overtaken — I love to watch the first song on this DVD, “The Lord Reigns” I get freedom just watching the girl in the back jump for joy in the Lord’s presence. There is a series of songs at the end that get’s really deep and intimate, and will take you into some very deep worship, including “Alabaster Jar” and “My Romance”.
3. Extraordinary (ORU) — This may be more personal preference, but I really like this album. It has a number of songs including “Heal Me” and “This is our God” which only appear here, and bring a specific anointing with them. Kari Jobe appears on this album
In addition to these few, Klaus Keuhn has two major albums, Kari Jobe has a small album, and Rick Pino has two major albums. Each of these are good in their own right. Rick Pino’s stuff is very intense so even as intense as I am, I can’t listen to it continously, but when you are ready for intensity it’s some really good stuff.
Kansas City and Friends
There are individual songs I like by various musicians of this stream including Jason Upton (who really is best live), the Morningstar worship guys, Joann McFatter, and others. However of the ones I know about, as an album, the one that really stands out:
1. We Cry Out by Jesus Culture. This album brings the passion of Kansas City together with structure. The entire album is really great, but the Kim Walker songs are off the charts. They are very intense “Go after God with everything” kind of songs.
Not everyone who didn’t grow up in the traditionally black chuch is able to enjoy black gospel, but most people who have some musical breadth can really enjoy Fred Hammond. He is the Hillsong of black gospel music. Entirely in a category of his own. In particular, when he was paired with Radical for Christ (RFC) every album they did was outstanding. Often very rich lyrics, rich complex music, and the anointing. It’s really hard to choose some over others but here are my two favorites:
1. Pages of Life — This Two disc set, especially disc one is really strong. There are strong, warfare/faith builders as well as deep, comtemplative worship songs. May be “best of genre”
2. Spirit of David — This is a great album. Again, great lyrics with outstanding musicianship.
Running out of energy, but here are a few more goodies: Keith Staten did two great Praise & Worship albums. John P Kee’s, “Strength” is a great album that you can play all the way through. Winans Phase Two had one album that was outstanding. Hezekiah Walker has a number of albums, but Live In Atlanta is probably best. Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship Mass Choir second album has a couple of very powerful songs. Lakewook Church did two great albums. The old Commissioned stuff can be good too. In it’s day those guys really touched the black church.