Music review by Luchae Williams
Fred Hammond, or ‘Uncle Fred’ as my spiritual father calls him, has been around since 1985 when he was first spotted in the Gospel performing group, Commissioned. He is well known in Gospel-music-loving households, where his vocal arrangements and catchy rhythms can be heard, on full blast, after church on a Sunday morning. I thought it would only be fitting that my first #TBT music review be one of Hammond’s classics: Purpose by design – The Dove Awards Contemporary Gospel Album of the year 2000, which he recorded with his vocal ensemble, Radical for Christ.
The title of this album caught my attention from the get-go and I am pleased to say that all my expectations were met. With well-written, Word inspired lyrics that boast about being entirely committed to the plans of the Lord, this CD spoke straight to my heart. We are designed on purpose! This is a perfect truth that I can speak about the whole day! I love that Hammond penned most of the tracks, with the help of fellow musician friends such as amazing writer Kim Rutherford, Daryl Dixon and Hammond’s then music director, Noel Hall. The vocal arrangements, performed by Radical for Christ, are the sweet cherry on the top.
Opening track, titled I want my destiny is a classic Fred Hammond kind of track. The chorus says “Can’t settle for half or nothing short/Of what you made me to be or want me to be/Cause I want it all/As I look around/The time is now.”
I love the urgency behind the message and the fresh Hammond groove.
Let me praise you now starts off with cheeky lyrics saying “Destiny just a few more steps just a little/But an irate enemy is in the middle/And he’s swearing (sayin’) there’s no way I will complete it/But I ain’t playing cause I know he is defeated!”
There is power in praise! Our praise sends confusion to the enemy’s camp! This track is a sing-along, tongue in cheek, praise song with a catchy melody.
I know it was the blood and I press both paint vivid pictures with its lyrics. Oh and I have to mention Uncle Fred’s inventive rhythm section (I’m sure I also heard some electronics in there). Both these tracks are the kind you’d bop your head to… or play air drums to… depending on your location.
Worship songs Give me a clean heart and Our Father are really beautiful ‘face-down before the Lord’ kind of songs.
There are 4 live tracks on this 13 tracked album, and they make my choral music loving heart very happy! Thank You Lord is an inspirational song of gratitude. Another favourite is the live remake of popular Sam Cooke track, Jesus be a fence around me. This is a congregational-rousing, catchy, almost hymn-like song, but with a rocking vamp and foot tapping beat!
I really love the choral composition on You are the living Word. This is one of my favourites to sing along to. The song speaks such truths about who God is, that you can’t help but enter into a time of worship while listening to it.
When you praise is probably my favourite out of all the tracks on this album. I love that it reiterates the power of our praise and totally applaud Radical for Christ for the emotive, sincere vocals which add a special something to the already deep lyrics. I love the build-up in the vamp, which brings in snippets of popular worship songs, helping to emphasise the magnitude of the God that we serve. Wow! This is the track I’d put on repeat.
The last track on the album is called Yes He will and speaks about God responding to our faith and doing the impossible for His children. The vamp simply says “Yes He will!” and fills you with such affirmation and confidence in Daddy God’s ability and love for us!
The musical excellence that Hammond always displays is such a reminder of taking what God has placed in your hand and doing the very best with it, for His glory! Hammond also won three Stellar Awards in 2001 for this album – Male Vocalist of the Year, Producer of the Year and Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year, with the album hitting Gold status after its release in 2000.
14 years later and this album still holds such power and revelation! So if you are in a season of preparation, waiting for your next season to start, I suggest you get your hands on it. You will be left feeling encouraged and inspired!