Okay, I admit it; I am a huge Michael W. Smith fan! I remember when he played back up for Amy Grant. I remember those first few albums and those wild clothes and hairstyles. It was the eighties and we all dressed that way. So needless to say when I heard about a remake of some of Smitty’s songs I was a little resistant. Okay a lot resistant. I had heard of a couple of these groups. Tree 63 and Todd Agnew, but I still was not sure what to expect.
My first listen was shocking. I thought how could they do this to his songs? These are classics, like Rich Mullins, “Awesome God,” and Sandy Patti’s “Via Delarosa.” After listening, I decided I needed to go back to Michael’s albums and listen to the originals. It had been a while since I had listened to “Lamu” or “You Need a Savior”. I decided to take my twelve-year-old son along for the ride. I enjoyed it immensely. My son on the other hand thought it was weird. “Mom, this is the 21st century, give it a rest!” I had to admit the overwhelming synthesizer work Smitty used to employ was a little outdated now, so I decided to give Ultimate another listen.
There really are some great sounds on this album. The new interpretation of “Go West Young Man” is really catchy. “Secret Ambition” and “Missing Person” are true to the originals. My son is hooked and I really think this album is worth a listen, especially to hear Michael’s son Ryan redo “The Race is On.” (Was he even born when that song was first released?)
Anyway, if you still don’t like it after a couple of listens, pass it on to your kids or a young person that you know. The lyrics are still powerful and the style is something they will love to hear. The message will get through.