Review: The Classic Imperials "Still Standing"

In the world of Christian music, there is no group that can match the long and fabled history of the Imperials. The group began with Jake Hess, later performed with Elvis and then successfully morphed into a pioneering force in the burgeoning contemporary Christian music (CCM) scene. After all that, some of the most famous members joined together in 2010 to form The Classic Imperials" with the new album "Still Standing." Indeed, the 11 terrific songs prove that the Classic Imperials are rock solid and standing tall.
The album begins with the bold anthem "Live My Life." The passionate vocal performance and instrumentation is a perfect package to reintroduce the Classic Imperials. However, the group really shines on the country track "No More Looking Over My Shoulder," which deserves radio airplay on both country and gospel radio. "Brighter Day" is a modern, upbeat praise and worship song that will manage to surprise both current fans and younger listeners who were not even born when the Imperials ruled the CCM charts.

Founding member Armond Morales (bass), Paul Smith (tenor), Dave Will (baritone) and newcomer Rick Evans (tenor) have joined with remarkable results. It must be said that Armond Morales makes coming out of retirement look easy, and the Nashville-based group has a tight sound that embraces new elements of contemporary music while somehow keeping the best parts of the Imperials' signature sound.

The country gospel track "Heaven" is a throwback to the Imperials of years gone by, and it works on all levels. The melodic "God's Got Something Good For Me" has much of the same charm, and "Been Through The Water" is a beautiful Christian story in song that builds to a rousing crescendo.

"Ebeneezer" is a uniquely wonderful, hard-edged track that blends gospel, Christian rock and country with a great result. "There's No God" is a retro CCM track that reminds listeners of the history represented by the Classic Imperials. The best track on the album is "Love Speaks For Itself," which could best be described as Newsong meets the Imperials' "Sing The Classics" album. The final track "Something's Wrong With The World" is a Carman-esque song with a powerful message and driving beat.

The Classic Imperials have done what seemed impossible and improbable just a few years ago with the release of "Still Standing." For a Christian group that was founded in 1964 to return to the music scene with a relevant and focused project that sounds fresh and of the moment is a towering achievement that actually would be unthinkable for just about any other group - except the enduring Imperials.