If you like Newsboys enough and haven't bought Born Again yet, you'd do well enough to spend the price for a fancy cup of coffee to spring for a Miracle.
Born Again: Miracles Edition
My interest in writing a review of an album that's come out as long ago as ex-DC Talk co-singer Michael Tait's first full longplayer as Newsboys' lead vocalist, Born Again, lies in whether it's worth the money a hardcore enough fan of the band would have to spend in order to again own the same songs s/he purchased on the release's original iteration in addition to the extra tracks and remixes included on the refangled Miracles Edition.
You may have just read a heckuva long sentence above, but this is a heckuva long record, too. To be fair, the Newsboys aficiando with the bucks to spare would probably only be spending $1.50-$2.00 more for the same music plus eight more tunes, including four remixes of numbers on the album's original version that really hardcore 'Boys lovers would have likely already purchased as downloads. Plus, if their love for DC Talk is anywhere near that of the main act being discussed here, they likely own the original, arguably superior, rendition of "Jesus Freak" as well as the remake heard here.
(On a side note, I may have said it in this esteemed 'zine before, but it bears repeating that I believe "Jesus Freak" and the album whence it came to be generously overrated and that DCT artistically peaked with its predecessor, Free At Last. And if "Jesus Freak" as a song itself isn't to Nirvana’s "Smells Like Teen Spirit" what George Harrison’s "My Sweet Lord" is to The Chiffons' "My Sweet Lord," it comes eerily close. And speaking of eerie, that describes the look of the "Jesus Freak" music video. Now, back to our otherwise scheduled review!...)
Having the remixes on a disc you don't have to burn from your own digital stash makes a reasonable case for owning the disc's second edition. Family Force Five tweak the Newsies' rendition of Hillsong praise & worship ditty "Mighty to Save" into something resembling Mims' rap smash of a few years back, "This Is Why I'm Hot," with a smidgen of flamenco guitar and processed vocals. Flatline turn the ska-informed vibe of "Way Beyond Myself" into a cut that flits pleasantly between trance and tech house textures. Skeet Skeet's Mega is a Gang take of ”Miracles" is re-rendered as an exercise in '90s techo/rave-meets-tribal house, while French Horn Rebellion's revisioning of the album's titular track harkens to a late '80s Pet Shop Boys/New Order synth-disco collaboration (if you're a wag who knows that PSB and NO members did meet minds in the late '80s to form Electronic, yeah, I know, but this is some different and roughly as good). Being a on a Christian market album that's less than eight minutes from filling up a compact disc's 80-minute limit, none of these oh so danceable remixes aren't exactly structured for club use, so here's to waiting for an EP of extended remixes. And here's to not holding my breath on that, too, of course.
As for the non-remix bonus cuts, radio single "We Remember" and "I'll Be" all both heavy enough to put anti-Christian rock types in an uproar, were such an uproar not so incredibly old hat, yet light enough to probably get on Christianny inspirational and adult contemporary radio (the first of those already has made it there). "Give Me To You" evokes if perhaps only by a mite, '90s Britpop at its most bombastic-e.g., Oasis, The Verve, et al -but aren't far off from the other two insofar as chart potential. "Glorious"? Nice ill' testimonial-ish thing that could be of congregational use and sounding like another radio single if it hasn’t been designated as one already.
As for the rest of the original album...KJ52 masterfully enough infuses soul into the silliness that comprises the rap portion of the aforementioned DCT remake. The references to Twitter and Facebook in "One Shot" are likely to age uncomfortably as "Email My Heart" on Britney Spears' first album; it also bears striking similar structure to "Born Again." "When the Boys Light Up" might have a title that reads like a sequel to Brownsville Station's "Smoking in the Boys Room," but it's really a semi-self-referential tune about the band's history and Tait joining them; it gets that history more than a bit wrong upon saying Tait's arrival makes for the band's second act, as if original leader John James is written out of the chronology. No fair, that! Current radio single "Save Your Life" makes subtly effective use of what sounds like kazoo, so yay for that! And "Escape" is the already rocky danceable piece here that the band decided not to have remixed; go figure!
The other several tunes mete out about what longtime 'Boys-oids will expect and enjoy while meeting the expectations of Christianny radio, youth pastors and their charges. Insofar as the relatively explicit Christian expression and encouragement there, that's a pretty good thing.
However, I've one suggestion to the Newsy Ones themselves if they're reading this. I wouldn't normally urge anyone to take any clues in any way from crummy poppy commercial country duo Sugarland nowadays, but they got one thing right in recent years. An album or so ago, they had the bright idea to release the expanded edition of what was then their latest before the standard version. That way their fans could buy the one with more songs on it without having to purchase any music twice. Considerate of their fans, that, yes?
Still, if you like Newsboys enough and haven't bought Born Again yet, you'd do well enough to spend the price for a fancy cup of coffee to spring for a Miracle.
Jamie Lee Rake