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    Most fans thought it would never happen.  The return of William Lee Golden to the Oak Ridge Boys seemed like a pipe dream for years.  Well, thankfully it did happen, and then there was news of a new CD coming.  Commercials began to show on television for an Oak Ridge Boys double CD of traditional gospel hymns and songs....just like the old days.  Of course this was nothing new for the Oaks, especially with William Lee back in the fold.  The ultimate Oak Ridge Boys line up, plus doing traditional gospel was a can't miss venture, or was it?

    While 'Revival' was a wonderful gift, a CD with the beloved four together again, there was something missing from this CD. The entire project sounds very "processed". While the songs are done well, and the boys sound great together, the music and overall finished product seems to lack the heart of most Oak Ridge Boys releases.  The synthesizer, as opposed to a real piano, and the drum machine give this CD a very robotic sound.  Despite the Boys singing their hearts out and harmonizing wonderfully once again, even that cannot overcome the machinelike sound of these recordings.

    The interesting things about these songs is that many of them were performed on The Nashville Network after the CD was released, with a full live band behind them, and the songs sound absolutely amazing!  Those performances are some of the best I've ever seen by the Oaks.  The songs were vibrant and full of life....."anointed", if you will.  All four guys were very energetic and obviously having a great time.  If they could have captured the energy and instrumental sound of these performances in the studio, this CD would have been completely different, as would have been this review.


Outstanding Cuts: Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jerico, I'm Feelin' Mighty Fine, Have A Little Talk With Jesus
Cut Outs: no song in particular, just the sound, lack of bass, and poor production

                                                                                                                                 --- Edward Wille


    This album was recorded and released in 1997, one year after the return of William Lee Golden. The idea was to record a two-CD set to be marketed via television commercials and their website. 25 Gospel Greatest Hits was the subtitle to this collection, and with production by country/rock legend Leon Russell, I'm sure everything looked good on paper.

    But in the end, production problems and delays plagued the project. What was ultimately released was basically a "rough cuts" project, with many unfinished vocals and music tracks consisting of a piano, synthesizer, and drum machine. Many of the arrangements feel bland, and the whole project seems rushed.

    The project was debuted on TNN's "Prime Time Country" in 1997, and the live arrangements were much more exciting and fuller (especially with an actual band) than anything on the CD itself. Even the artwork is cheesy (the only photos - or color, for that matter - is on the front, the rest is cheap B&W text).

    While I'm sure their intentions were good, this project ultimately is a disappointment. It was only pressed and sold for two years (until a recording contract was reached with a new label), after that, the project disappeared, never to be made again. This aspect makes this project very rare to come by.

    Some die-hard Oaks fans seem to enjoy the raw, "singing around the piano" aspect of this project, but if you're familiar with their full, inventive musical arrangements and styles, this project is probably not for you. The only reason for owning this is its rarity (very few were ultimately pressed).

                                                                                                                                                          --- Kyle Boreing