Music Review: I Can Only Imagine (The Very Best of MercyMe) by Mercy Me

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Updated June 05, 2018
I Can Only Imagine
MercyMe - I Can Only Imagine (The Movie Session - Official Music Video)

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£11.97 (amazon)
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£7.99 (amazon)

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In celebration of the upcoming global movie release, MercyMe is unveiling I Can Only Imagine – The Very Best of MercyMe, a 13 piece collection of the band’s most beloved songs alongside a special version of the monumental hit “I Can Only Imagine” made just for the movie called “I Can Only Imagine (The Movie Session).”

“We’re so excited to get to share this new version of ‘I Can Only Imagine’ with everyone. The song has meant a lot to me over the years, and it really came out of a difficult season,” shares MercyMe’s Bart Millard. “It brought me a lot of hope, but there has always been something very melancholy about the song in the way that it was recorded before. Getting to do it over this time around, I really felt like it would be awesome to shape in a more celebratory tone, where it conveys us rejoicing in the fact that we don’t have to imagine much longer. It has this cinematic and whimsical feel about it, and it really fits with how I see the song today differently than when I first wrote it.” Carefully selected by the band, the impressive track listing for this album includes their biggest hits such as “Flawless,” “Word Of God Speak,” “God With Us” plus the original version of “I Can Only Imagine.”

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I Can Only Imagine The Very Best Of MercyMe
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Mercy Me have been on the Christian music scene for 24 years since they first started recording their independent music, before signing with INO Records and releasing their breakthrough album "Almost There". The song that put the band on the map was on that album called "I Can Only Imagine" and it gained Song of the Year at the Dove Music Awards in 2002. However as familiar as that song is to many listeners today it took 3 years before it really gained any major success. When it did the single sent the album soaring in sales, eventually being certified double platinum and the single on it's own was also certified platinum. Things have come full circle now as a movie has now been released about the writing of the song which was released earlier this year. This saw the band take the opportunity to re-record this track in a new way, and at the same time to release a Very Best Of album.

The album opens with this new version of  "I Can Only Imagine", but much as I enjoy the new version there is something special about the original version. Thankfully they have included that as well at the end of the album - so you can listen to whichever you prefer. This isn't the first greatest hits album from Mercy Me, I think this is their third and, of course, it brings tracks from their more recent albums to the compilation. "Greater" is one such track having featured on their 2014 album "Welcome To The New", there are a few tracks from this album including "Flawless", "Shake" and "Dear Younger Me". "The Generous Mr Lovewell" (2010) doesn't fare as well with just 1 track from that album featuring here. Sadly there are no tracks from their brilliant and most recent album "Lifer" which is a real shame because they have a brilliantly diverse sound on that album.

For fans of the older albums there are a number of very familiar songs which you will appreciate, but honestly, what am I saying, fans from their early days will have all the old albums anyway, so will only be buying this album for the new version of the title track!

This is a good compilation and they are great songs, no-one can really dispute that fact. Sadly it's also a bit of a cash-in on the new film, but I guess that is to be expected really. If you don't have the original releases then this is definitely worth the money for some quality Christian music that effectively makes you look at the big things of life, death and faith differently. If you're thinking of buying it just for a new version of "I Can Only Imagine", as delicately orchestral as it is, it isn't worth it!

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