Contemporary Christian singer, songwriter and worship leader Israel Houghton has released Decade: The Best of Israel Houghton and New Breed, a special two-disc release that gathers 26 of the greatest material from Houghton’s long and storied career with New Breed. What amazes me about this compilation of hits from the legendary worship leader, who recently visited Manila alongside Australian worship leaders Planetshakers, is that it doesn’t even remotely feel like it’s been ten years. The man just knows how to make excellent worship songs, and we the body of Christ continue to appreciate him for it.
Friend of God by Israel Houghton
In the Philippines, Houghton is most well-known for his earlier material, so Filipino fans will delight in CD1, especially the virtually non-stop praise party that starts with the first five songs. Friend of God, Again I Say Rejoice, You Are Good, and We Have Overcome play nonstop, and to be completely honest, those five songs alone are enough to satisfy one’s craving for good, get-up-and-dance-for-God-like-David-did material. With the Afro-American church influence coming straight to the fore in the tracks that follow – Not Forgotten, Who Is Like the Lord, New Season, Alpha and Omega, Take The Limits Off/No Limits (Enlarge My Territory), To Worship You I Live (Away), and There’s A Liftin’ Of The Hands, all showcasing Israel’s phenomenal worship leading ability and New Breed’s airtight gospel harmonies, it’s hard not to get swept away in Houghton’s praise and worship of a God Who loves him. Also on CD1 is a reworked version of Jesus Be The Center that is currently making the rounds of worship services around the world, thanks to reworkings from Lakewood and Planetshakers.
You Are Good by Israel Houghton
CD2 contains material from Houghton’s later years, where his urban influence began to spread and people began to take note of him for his exquisite musicality. While Saved By Grace, Say So, and Just Wanna Say clearly stand out for their urban radio-friendly inclinations, it’s Love God Love People, I Know Who I Am, You Hold My World, and the powerful The Power of One that really speak to the listener. By the time Moving Forward closes out the CD, I’m spent. It’s a collection that literally takes one’s breath away.
Moving Forward by Israel Houghton
Decade is arguably as great as Integrity Music can possibly make it. Is it complete? I’d say, Yes. I mean, I would’ve wanted to see Turn It Around on this record, but other than that, it’s a goldmine of worship material and a fine glimpse into the first decade of an artist who may still have the best years of his career ahead of him.
The average Filipino may not be as open as I would like to the kind of gospel music that Houghton creates, but the sheer number of tracks on this double-disc compilation tells us that Houghton’s strength comes in bringing to the fore the sheer emotion that one feels when one worships God, and this universal desire to worship speaks beyond nationalities, language, age, gender, and social class. Houghton’s skill at navigating genre makes this an indispensable collection that has something for everyone, which is a rare and welcome treat for any Contemporary Christian fan seeking something to use to reach out to his pre-believer friends. Whatever your fancy, when the time comes that you wish to worship or communicate with God, you can trust that Decade will have something to communicate for you when you yourself cannot.