Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ordinary Just Won't Do: 20th Anniversary Edition (Remastered) - Commissioned

Classy gospel music from a pioneer group

Ordinary Just Won’t Do: 20th Anniversary Edition (Remastered)
Artist: Commissioned
Label: Retroactive Records
Length: 10 tracks/42:15 minutes

The group Commissioned epitomizes style and substance. There is nothing ordinary about Ordinary Just Won’t Do. It’s classy right down to the album cover and CD label.

I can’t help wondering, if their smooth and intricate vocal harmonies, and their winsome combination of R&B, pop, funk and inspirational, made them forerunners for gospel artists that have followed, and have, like them, enjoyed crossover appeal. This CD reached #4 on Billboards’ Top Gospel Albums list.

From within, the group gave birth to the solo careers of two members who have become familiar names in gospel music: Fred Hammond and Marvin Sapp. That’s not to take away anything from the others who helped produce music that is recognized as being ahead of its time.

Ordinary Just Won’t Do, originally released in 1989, is the second Commissioned recording reissued by Retroactive Records. This sounds a little more sophisticated and mature then Go Tell Somebody, which was first issued in 1986. With the remastering, and the progress in recording during the three-year period between the two releases, this is nearly on par sonically with what you hear today.

Aside from a welcome variety of styles, slick production, excellent arrangements and songwriting, like the previous reissue it’s the strong spiritual content that stands out. What we so often hear today seems watered-down in comparison. The title song, a ballad, and perhaps the most outstanding track, is a prime example. On it the group unashamedly proclaims that Jesus alone is the answer to our problems: “Only Jesus Christ can supply your need.” Commissioned is bold with the truth.

Their lyrics alternate between challenge and comfort. One song can be like a pillow for a weary head while the next is a summons to live the life.

They inspire faith toward that end by continually drawing upon Scriptural truths, and yet it does not come across as preachy. “If My People,” which is derived from 2 Chronicles 7:14, is not the inspirational ballad one might expect from the subject matter. A funky groove complements the exhortation to get it together so that God can bless us. “Back in the Saddle” makes use of a forceful rap, solid drumming and another infectious groove to encourage keeping on.

We need these spiritual affirmations, which are often missing from modern music. Twenty years later this is still fresh and inspiring. Both reissues are worthwhile investments for those who enjoy gospel music.
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