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Chronology Volume I
by Third Day

Reviewed by Michael Ehret

"Mac and the band never do anything halfway, and that commitment continues with this release."

Greatest hits collections come in all sizes and configurations. Single discs, double discs, boxed sets. Too many new songs, not enough hits. Too many hits, not enough rarities. Skimpy gyp-the-fan packages.

But, when all is said and done, greatest hits collections exist for two, maybe three, reasons:

1. To give a treat to the band’s fan base by including plenty of hits and 2 to 4 new songs.
2. To market to that part of the record buying public that only likes the songs they like and doesn’t buy a lot of albums.
3. To fulfill a contract with a band that had a couple massive hits and then faded into obscurity.

In Third Day’s case, reason #3 can be eliminated. Mac Powell and the guys are not about to fade away. But Chronology Vol. 1, documents the band’s first five years (1996-2000), actually scores big, big points in both of the other reasons.

Mac and the band never do anything halfway and that commitment continues with this release, which is the first of two double-disc compilations to be released by the band this year. Chronology, Vol. 2, is slated for August and will document 2001 through 2006. If Vol. 2 is anything like Vol. 1, fans are in for a true treat.

This collection consists of two discs, one audio and one DVD – both apparently packed to the gills with songs, videos, live performances, and rarities – both on audio and video.

On the video disc, check out the 1992 live performance of Mac Powell and Mark Lee performing at their home church. Guaranteed this has never been made public before. They both look about 16 (and may have been) and Mac sings what seems to be a full octave above his normal voice now. Hilarious, but fascinating.

That disc also contains David Carr’s and Tai Anderson’s first appearances with the band (also in 1992) as well as five other rare live performances, the band’s Dove Award performances from 1997 through 2006, and five music videos. Remember Mac and the bleached blond hair from the Conspiracy #5 era? He’s here.

The audio disc contains 17 tracks, including two from a rare 1999 EP (“Long Time Comin’” and “She Sings in Riddles”), two previously unavailable live cuts, and 13 other hits, including new 2006 recordings of “Thief” and “My Hope Is You.”

Minor quibble and the only caveat to this whole package: The songs included from the band’s 1996 self-titled Third Day album are all in new mixes. But the new mixes aren’t bad, as much as they are more and sharper. As if the band, in listening to those early cuts, wanted to correct what they weren’t capable of sonically at the time. I prefer the originals, but the new mixes are well worth listening to.

Am I looking forward to Vol. 2 in August? Oh yeah, definitely. And here’s why: It features a documentary on the full 10-year career of the band – plus, of course, hits and more rarities.

Michael Ehret is a music maven who has written about music, secular and Christian, as a reporter for The Indianapolis Star newspaper, several Internet sites, and even CCM magazine. He is also the editor of the newsletter Afictionado, the e-zine of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and is testing the waters with his first novel, Beyond December, while working on his second, Skipping July.