Various Artists

Family Reunion [Reunion]

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Family Reunion is a retrospective of Reunion Records' first 15 years of existence (1982-1997). With a lot of other labels, this might seem a bit pretentious, but Reunion has been one of CCM's mainstays, with artists like Michael W. Smith, Gary Chapman, Kathy Troccoli, Third Day, and Clay Crosse on its roster. This two-disc set is divided by decade. The "Eighties" disc shows Reunion establishing itself with "Friends," one of Smith's first hits, and "Stubborn Love," an ever-so-slightly overly done hit single by Troccoli. "Psalm One" by Kim Hill harkens the arrival of innovative, soulful Christian music. Rich Mullins' "Awesome God" is one of the best-known songs in CCM. The disc wraps with another song by Smith, "Secret Ambition." The "Nineties" disc sees Reunion taking more risks as they reach out to a broader audience. "Place in This World" by Smith is their first crossover hit. They signed bands with an alterna-pop sound, including All Star United and Third Day. Reunion even expanded into rap with Mike-E and country with Michael James. "Seize the Day" by Carolyn Arends follows in Kim Hill's footsteps with a folky, lyrical feel. "Everything Changes" by Troccoli is an upbeat pop hit that shows her phenomenal growth as an artist over the decade since her first release. Clay Crosse's hit "I Surrender All" wraps up the album. Reunion hasn't been a trendsetter per se, but they also haven't been afraid to adjust their roster to fit the new sounds CCM listeners crave, including techno, alternative, rap, and country. Family Reunion shows Reunion's influence on mainstream CCM. Not all the tracks are classics ("Housin'"? I don't think so), but all show the development and growing pains of a foundational label in CCM.

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