Decade: The Best of Israel Houghton & New Breed
These days, compilation projects are a dime-a-dozen. We get just a few albums into an artist’s career, and record labels seem ready to toss out a “greatest hits” project, regardless of whether the person had “hits,” let alone if we ever considered them “great.”
Thankfully, the phrases “best of” and “Israel Houghton,” don’t give us any pause at all. In fact, it leads some of us to nod emphatically, saying “it’s about time!” Kudos to Integrity Music for compiling Decade: The Best of Israel Houghton & New Breed (in stores March 6, 2012). This two-disc project features 26 of Israel Houghton’s greatest hits from 2002-2012.
At first glance, the title and concept of the project seems a bit forced, as 2002 did not mark the beginning of Israel & New Breed’s recording career (the breakthrough, now-classic New Season album actually hit stores in 2001). But a look at the track listing of Decade should assure you – not a hit was missed. And the New Season tunes are definitely in there, so I’ve got no complaints!
The project opens with one of Houghton’s trademark cross-cultural songs, “Friend of God,” before hitting “Again I Say Rejoice” and “You Are Good.” This triad has been foundational in Black, White and Hispanic worship services, alike, for years now. It’s a fitting introduction to Houghton’s prolific catalogue.
Perhaps more than any other artist in Gospel and Christian music, diversity is a hallmark of Israel Houghton's music and ministry. As he often puts it, he's a "half-Black, half-White" guy, who was "raised in an Hispanic church." And since he burst onto the music scene, he has shown us facets of those influences on each album, sometimes even within one song. Best for us, he's authentic in each area.
Fans of the Israel’s more rock-leaning praise tunes will enjoy the inclusion of hits like “Say So” and “We Have Overcome.” For the urban-minded music lover, “With Long Life” and “Just Wanna Say” were must-have additions to this compilation. And those who absolutely adore Israel’s worship songs will be glad to see powerful songs like “Alpha and Omega,” “You Hold My World,” and “Hosanna/Be Lifted Higher.”
On Decade , as with each of his albums, there’s a little something for everyone, regardless of musical tastes. After all, the praise team-ready “Who Is Like the Lord” was already paired with the downright churchy “There’s a Liftin’ of the Hands” on Israel’s New Season album before they made the cut for this compilation. And the folky, acoustic-driven “Power of One,” was already the title track of the same project that would contain the contemporary gospel-themed “Saved By Grace.” It’s all different, but it’s all “Israel.”
To be certain, Israel Houghton’s musical diversity has, at times, been both a strength and a commercial hurdle, leaving it a mystery as to which genre would fully embrace a particular album or single. But for his die-hard fans, and plain old lovers of good music, it has never mattered. And it never will.
Israel Houghton consistently delivers good music. Period. And Decade: The Best of Israel Houghton & New Breed is simply a testament to that fact, which has been resonating in our hearts for a good ten years.