It was only seven years ago that Newsboys released their first hits project, Shine - The Hits. Now, with the band not even on Sparrow Records anymore, the label has decided to release a brand new hits collection, simply titled The Greatest Hits. With twenty years under their Australian pop music-making belts, The Greatest Hits aims to not only include more hits from the past seven years that Shine couldn't cover, but to offer more of what it is we've grown to love about the Newsboys.
First of all, since 2000, the Newsboys have released not only their albums Thrive and Go, but also their pair of worship projects, Adoration and Devotion. This allows new favorites like "Million Pieces," "It Is You," and "He Reigns" to be included, not to mention Go cuts like "Wherever We Go" and the infectiously wonderful, "Something Beautiful." But because The Greatest Hits boasts ten songs that weren't on the 2000 release of Shine, it means other Newsboys fan favorites didn't make the cut here this time. These include songs like "Woohoo," "Step Up to the Microphone," "God Is Not A Secret," "Believe," and "Where You Belong/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." However, fans aren't likely to miss the dated "I Got Your Number" or the pointless "Mega Mix" that closed out the previous collection. And where Shine offered three brand new songs exclusive to the hits release, The Greatest Hits offers two brand new ones, as well as one of the exclusives from Shine, "Joy." The album opens with "I Fought The La," a catchy and witty pop anthem that is classic Newsboys at their very best. The two new cuts on this release are also the first recordings without Phil Joel since he left the band last year (Phil first recorded with the band on their 1996 release, Take Me To Your Leader). Finally, the second new track, "Stay Strong," is representative of the more serious side of Newsboys, serving as the kind of spiritual encouragement accessible through a melodic pop tune. Other tracks that weren't on Shine that are included here this time around include "Real Good Thing" from the 1994 album, Going Public (which also had "Shine" and "Spirit Thing") and the silly-but-fun "In The Belly Of The Whale" from the Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie soundtrack. While this project didn't really need the addition of the Veggies cut (however, this does mark the first time the song is available on a Newsboys record), it's great to have another song from Going Public on here which is a solid album that shouldn't be forgotten.
At first glance, it's tempting to boldly state that another greatest hits release for the Newsboys just isn't necessary. But with newer tracks from the past seven years now included, as well as three brand new offerings, Shine - The Hits is now out of date and incomplete, nearly making this release a necessity. However, with Provident giving Third Day a dual release of CD/DVD combos to cover ten years of hit-making from the southern rock band from Atlanta, it's difficult to look at EMI's The Greatest Hits and not think that similar treatment of the Newsboys' career has been earned over their 20 years together. But with Newsboys shooting for a Fall 2008 release of a brand new studio album through Inpop Records, The Greatest Hits serves as a little reminder of the great things that have come from these Aussie pop giants. Fans don't need to be shelling out for another hits album, but this release's song selection is definitely stronger than the previous effort. But who knows, maybe someday someone will get wise and give these guys the appropriate anthological collection when Captain Crunch waves farewell one last time...- Review date: 11/26/07 by John DiBiase
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