It's been ten years since MercyMe exploded onto the scene with the song "I Can Only Imagine." And since then, they have become one of the largest acts in contemporary Christian music. Their songs still dominate the radio airwaves. Their lyrics are sung in countless churches nationwide. They headline major tours and Summer festivals. With a timeline like that, MercyMe's got some history to look back on, so that's exactly what they set out to do with their latest project, 10.
The collection is divided into two discs. They're aptly titled "Sound" and "Sight," as the first disc is an audio collection while the second is a DVD featuring concert footage as well as some other video features. The addition of a DVD to a greatest hits projects is a definite plus, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's begin with the first disc...
The "Sound" collection features fourteen tracks in total. Twelve of those fourteen are #1 hits from their discography spanning the past decade. It would have been nice to see a few other songs from their history (there are three tracks from their most recent recording, All That Is Within Me). It would have made this feel like a more complete collection. With their heralded library of music, it wouldn't have been difficult to find a few more tracks to please fans.
The other three tracks are exclusive to this release. The first is a symphonic re-recording of "I Can Only Imagine" which features the London Symphony Orchestra. The London Symphony sounds amazing, composing a beautiful arrangement that can stand alone. However, there are times when the orchestra seems to clash with the vocals and the spirit of the song. Moments of contemplation just seem jumbled with the feeling that there's just too much going on. That being said, the build to the climax of the song is awesome and takes the song to new heights than previously conceived. The other two new bonus tracks are brand new songs. "Only Temporary" discusses the nature of the world we live in and our role as strangers and aliens here. It has a distinct southern flavor, sounding as if it would have fit nicely on Coming Up to Breathe. The second of the two new songs is called "Ten Simple Rules" and is based around the Ten Commandments. It comes off sounding a bit hokey as if it's best served to be used in a children's program.
Overall, the "Sound" portion is decent. Obviously, MercyMe's previous hits speak for themselves. The new songs don't really add much to the collection and it would have been nice to see a few more from their previous efforts. Chances are if you've kept up on some of the yearly Christian hits CDs, you have most of these tracks somewhere.
The "Sight" DVD mostly alternates between concert footage and music videos (some of which contain mostly concert footage interestingly enough). The concert footage, for the most part, isn't anything special. Although, for "Word of God Speak," they splice together footage from several different concerts making for a visually interesting collection. The definite highlight of the music videos is "So Long Self." Most people think of serious worshipful songs (such as "I Can Only Imagine" & "Word of God Speak") when they think of MercyMe, but the "So Long Self" video captures a side that most don't think of, their fun side.
About the last half hour of the DVD consists of two featurettes. The first is from the Gospel Music Channel titled "Faith and Fame: MercyMe." This is a "behind the music" style TV show that re-tells the story of the band. It features pictures and video from their early days. This is probably the best part of the entire collection (CD or DVD). The insights the band members give are very interesting and even fun to hear. Christian music would do well to release more similar media on artists. The DVD rounds out with a feature just on the song "I Can Only Imagine." This is nice and some of the stories are inttiguing, but it almost seems a bit out of place and odd following the "Faith and Fame" feature.
The one major flaw in this DVD is its lack of interface. There is no menu. When the DVD is inserted, all you have is a black screen with a "Play" icon in the middle. Moving throughout the DVD is done by skipping from chapter to chapter. With the amount of content featured, a menu should have been a must.
Overall, the project is solid simply because the content is solid. However, 10 could have benefited from a little more careful planning (i.e. A DVD menu?) and consideration (CD content). This collection is obviously going to be a must-have for all MercyMe fans. For the casual fan, the DVD is really what makes this worth your money. The audio portion is good, but if you've bought any Christian "hits" compilation CDs in the past ten years, you've picked up a fair share of these songs already.- Review date: 4/7/09, written by Matt Johnson of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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