Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Music Week: GLAD

True to my word, I continue Music Week here at Euphrony Rambles. Today, I focus on one of my all-time favorite groups, GLAD. They've been around since the late 70's and are perhaps best know for their tight vocal arrangements and jazz leanings. Listening to their lyrics, which often are simply scripture put to music, frequently encourages me and reminds me of things I too easily forget.

As I said, they're vocal arrangements are amazing. They began, early in their career, to include one a cappella song on each album. They were popular enough that they released a whole album of vocal music, The A Cappella Project. This lead to an alternating of "vocal" and "band" albums - a pattern they follow to this day. Other special projects include The Symphony Project, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra, and A Cappella Gershwin. Their a cappella arrangements of some ancient hymns ("And Can It Be" and "Be Thou My Vision") are the standards by which I compare any version of these songs.

Here are a couple or their classic songs:

"Be Ye Glad" - Their signature song; just five guys around a piano. The video may be lacking, but the music is beautiful. To this day, this song remains one of my absolute favorites.

"Variations on a Hymn" - Often just called that hymn thing, this is their shtick giving a history of how contemporary Christian music got started. They trace back to Martin Luther and Charles Wesley, and how they would set lyrics to bar songs and use them in worship. They take the same lyrics and then translate them to how they may have been written in the 1940's (jazzy big band), in Appalachia (bluegrass), on a 1960's beach (surfer), and today. It's a longer song (about 10 minutes) but is pretty cool. There is a YouTube video of "Variations on a Hymn", but I could never get it to load. Here is a link to the full audio of the song.

Are you familiar with Glad's music? What do you think of the songs? They're not on many radio station playlists these days, but they are in constant rotation on my iPod. If this is an introduction for you, I hope you find their work enjoyable!

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Chaotic Hammer said...

Wow. I don't think I've heard anything about Glad since the mid-80's.

I can certainly see why the whole harmonizing vocals thing could be appreciated and enjoyed. Very soothing and peaceful sound.

But not really my cup of tea these days. (In all fairness, I'm not sure what is my cup of tea musically these days. I'm going through a bit of a drought in my personal music-appreciation.)

And wow. Look at that hair. Heh.

euphrony said...

I'm a long-time fan good vocal and a cappella music. Growing up in the churches of Christ gave me an appreciation of how good it can sound. The Fairfield Four, Blind Boys of Alabama, Chanticleer, The King's Singers, Take 6 - there are a lot of really talented groups out there.

And, yeah, the hair. Have you looked at any 20-year old pictures of yourself, lately? I try not to.

Anonymous said...

Good choice, Euphrony. Have you ever seen them in concert? I think I've just seen them once. I used to listen to them all the time. The only CD I still pull out frequently is The Symphony Project. I love the orchestration on The Great Storm is Over. It was written by Don Hart, who does a lot of arranging for GLAD. I think I first noticed Don's name on GLAD's albums and now I work with him all the time, so I hear about them whenever Don is writing new charts for them.

Douglas said...

Glad was one of my favorite groups growing up, too. I haven't listened to them in awhile. Thanks for the reminder.


euphrony said...

MB - I'm "glad" I brought up some good memories.

Stephen - I've never had the chance to see them in concert. "The Great Storm is Over" is one of my favorites on The Symphony Project. According to their website, it is now out of print, so I'm lucky that I've managed to hang on to my copy. I had The Acappella Project II on tape, but lost it at some point. My wife bought me a GLAD CD about 10 years ago, an untitled compilation, that isn't listed in their discography - it covers up to Floodgates, and I think they switched labels around then; so I'm guessing it was put together without their input. It has "Variations on a Hymn" as well as "Anthem" (written by Michael W. Smith) and a few other rarer tracks along with some more popular songs.

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