This week’s classic video spotlight has the Dixie Melody Boys. In honoring their 50 years of music here is a 1991 video clip of the group singing one of their most popular songs; “I’m Gonna Ride The Glory Cloud”. Enjoy!
Archive for September, 2011
Tags: Dixie Melody Boys
Tags: Greater Vision
In this week’s ten on ten feature is Greater Vision. Celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2011, it is only fitting we take a look at the group’s career and highlight their ten best recordings. In looking at the group’s major label releases, their church hymnal series and the many compilations released over the course of the last 20 years this is the final result.
Greater Vision’s top ten albums:
- When I See The Cross (1997)
- Quartets (2003)
- Perfect Candidate (2000)
- Far Beyond This Place (1999)
- It’s Just Like Heaven (1992)
- On A Journey (1991)
- Live At First Baptist Atlanta (2002)
- The King Came Down (1993)
- The Only Way (2011)
- Serving A Risen Savior (1994)
- Greater Vision was recording top-tier music from the start. The group’s first four major label releases from 1991 to 1994 are all among the group’s ten best recordings.
- The 1990′s were a better decade in regards to the music released by Greater Vision than the music released in the 2000′s.
- Many regard the 2003 recording Quartets as the group’s best but When I See The Cross from 1997 is what I consider to be the pinnacle recording for Greater Vision. At least of all the albums released to date.
- There was not a weak song on When I See The Cross. Highlighted by “Common Garments”, “I Have A Hope”, “All The Way”, “He’d Still Been God” and “When I See The Cross”.
- Quartets definitely allowed the listener to get a taste of what the trio would sound like as a quartet. I think it is time for a Quartets 2 album to make its way to retail.
- The group had a long dry spell in the release of a really great recording since 2003′s Quartets until the release of The Only Way here in 2011.
- The return of Chris Allman at the tenor vocal position was a large part in that return to really strong recordings.
- The forgotten gem in this top ten list is the album listed at #10; Serving A Risen Savior. ”He Rose Again”, “God Will Provide”, “A Risen Savior”, “Who Moved” and “God Still Rolls Away Stones” all highlight a really strong recording.
- From forgotten gem to the album that should be forgotten. Every artist has an album in their discography that doesn’t match the caliber of their other recordings. For Greater Vision, that album is My Favorite Place from 2005.
- Greater Vision has plenty of years ahead of them to change this current top ten list with the release of additional landmark recordings.
Tags: Marshall Hall
Another Gaither Vocal Band alumnus joins a long list of former members to start a solo career. Former baritone, Marshall Hall, releases his debut effort with Daywind Records titled Brighter One. It hits retail on October 11, 2011.
Marshall Hall brings various styles to his first solo recording. The listener is treated to some modern country, blues, light pop and even a little funk from Brighter One.
The ten song collection features several covers of songs that were originally popularized in the Inspirational and CCM markets. These include Gaither’s “I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen,” “Beautiful Scandalous Night” (Sixpence None The Richer, Smalltown Poets, etc.), Clay Crosse’s “Saving The World,” Point of Grace’s “There Is Nothing Greater Than Grace,” Mandisa’s “Voice Of A Savior,” and Nichole Nordeman’s “Finally Free.” In addition to the ten full-length songs, there is also a 30 second impromptu moment near the end of the recording where a chorus of “I’ll Fly Away” is sung in the studio.
Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row (Steve Eaton) and MusicScribe (David Bruce Murray) will determine if this Marshall Hall debut is a must buy. This collaborative review offers likes and dislikes from the two of us and then gives a definitive yes or no on whether the album is a ‘must buy’.
SOUTHERN GOSPEL VIEWS FROM THE BACK ROW
- The recording starts strong with the title track “Brighter One”. This modern country flavored tune would do well at radio. The mandolin instrumentation in the mix adds that extra something to make this tune a bright spot on the recording.
- The two ballads at the end of the recording are also strong; “There Is Nothing Greater Than Grace” (Marshall Hall/Samuel Mizell/Antonio Neal) and “Voice Of A Savior” (Samuel Mizell/Matthew West). While they don’t match the original versions by Point Of Grace and Mandisa, Marshall is able to bring enough of himself to the songs to make them enjoyable.
- I also enjoyed the funk infused Clay Crosse tune “Saving The World”. Marshall has the vocal chops to pull off this kind of song. I would have enjoyed more up tempo songs in this vein than the slower ballads that dominate the recording.
- Although most of the songs on this CD have been recorded before by other artists, Hall draws from material that will be new to diehard Southern Gospel fans. Hall’s versions of these songs stand up well when compared to the originals (links provided above). Clay Crosse did a better job with “Saving The World,” but I like that song so much that it’s not a negative observation.
- I enjoyed the little diversion into “I’ll Fly Away.” This CD is so thick with ballads, it needed something light for contrast.
- This CD mixes a few different types of songs, but I like the consistency of Hall’s vocals, the blend added by the background vocalists, and the quality of the overall production. (Hall produced assisted by veteran producers, Michael English and Jay Demarcus). In the hands of a lesser talented singer/producer, this selection of songs would have sounded random.
- Listeners that are expecting an all gospel album will be disappointed by the seductive mainstream country love song “Alive”. Daywind should consider sending this song to mainstream country radio.
- “Alive” is followed by the praise song “Beautiful, Scandalous Night” (Derald Daugherty/Steve Hindalong). After listening to Marshall’s take and going back and listening to Six Pence None The Richer’s version, I am still perplexed by the use of the words beautiful and scandalous together. For me it doesn’t fit.
- The 30 second impromptu moment, while trying to be fun, was just distracting. It disrupted the pace of the recording. Maybe it would have been better to include it at the end of the recording, instead of between two really good ballads.
- The word “love” is just one syllable, not three (“When You Love”).
- Hall’s voice, while very good, isn’t particularly distinctive compared to other GVB members who have recorded solo projects. There are moments where he sounds a lot like Michael English, which isn’t a bad thing, but we already have a Michael English.
- NO – While there are some bright spots on Brighter One this album just doesn’t quite fall in the must buy category.
- NO – Hall should get some traction from this initial solo release and I can enjoy it, but it’s not one I’d feel obligated to own for myself. I already own the Clay Crosse version of the song I’d most likely want to own (“Saving The World”).
Tags: Booth Brothers, Brian Free & Assurance, Crabb Family, Gold City, Greater Vision, McGruders, Perrys, Steeles
Now part 2 of our retro spotlight on the year 1996. Enjoy!
Brian Free & Assurance started hitting their stride as a quartet releasing 4 God So Loved in 1996. The title track has become a classic song for the group. Another hit song from that recording was the song “Jesus Came Out Alive”.
The Booth Brothers were just getting their recording career started 15 years ago. One of the first albums to come out by the group was the 1996 effort Praise God Anyhow. Neil Enloe, of Couriers fame, wrote a song that I enjoyed during this time period titled “Go Ahead And Shout”.
Another group getting their recording career started was the Crabb Family. This family would go on to be one of the biggest family group’s in Southern Gospel history. Their 1996 recording Still Holdin’ On garnered the group their first 3 top ten hits. One of those being the title track “Still Holdin’ On”.
Gold City began their return to greatness among Southern Gospel quartets with the line up of Parrack, Wilburn, Trammell and Riley. The 1996 recording Preparing The Way was the first for this particular line-up. One of the biggest songs from that recording was “He’s Still On The Throne”.
Greater Vision was celebrating their 5th anniversary as a group by the time 1996 rolled around. In addition to their major label release, the group also released The Church Hymnal Series – Volume One. This popular series would generate three additional volumes. Listen to the classic “Heaven’s Jubilee”.
The McGruders were nearing the end of their successful run by the time 1996 rolled around. The group had recording success from about 1989 to 1994 releasing one of Southern Gospel’s all time best live recordings in 1990; Come Fly. In 1996 the group released their last live album/video titled Plugged In Live. Listen to “The Finish Line”.
In an era where live albums were still being released, the Perrys Center Stage Live also came out in 1996. The Perrys were still traveling as a mixed quartet during this time period with both the alto and soprano female vocal parts. Mike Bowling was also traveling with the group at this time. ”Power In Prayer” featured Libbi and was one of the strongest songs on the recording.
To close out our look at 1996 is the Steeles. A family group that hit the scene in 1994 with instant radio success. That radio success eventually translated to concert success. The 1996 album We Want America Back became a landmark recording for the group. It went on to win the Singing News fan award for album of the year in 1997. Listen to “Nothing To Lose”.
Tags: Bishops, Cathedrals, Charles Johnson & The Revivers, Dixie Melody Boys, Karen Peck & New River, Martins, Paid In Full, Tony Gore & Majesty
Let’s get back to the music. The retro spotlight feature this week shines on the year 1996. There was plenty of great Southern Gospel music released 15 years ago. Here is a sample.
The Bishops were riding high during this time period. The release of You Can’t Ask Too Much Of My God gave the group another #1 hit with the title track. ”It Takes The Blood” is the clip provided here.
No year would be complete without mentioning the music of the Cathedrals. The group’s 1996 release, Radio Days, was a collection of classic Southern Gospel standards. Listen to the group turn in a fine performance of the classic, “Hard Trials Will Soon Be Over”.
As the Dixie Melody Boys celebrate 50 years in Southern Gospel music, taking a look back at the group’s 1996 recording Old Time Religion and a clip of the song “A Mansion Being Built”. The song features bass singer Ed O’Neal.
Charles Johnson & Revivers found success in Southern Gospel music during the period of about 1986 to 1997. The group performed on all the major concert stages at this time and also had radio success. Charles released a Hymns album in 1996 that featured one new song; “Holy City, New Jerusalem”.
Tony Gore & Majesty were also among Southern Gospel’s top trios during this time period. Bursting on the scene in 1994, the group continued until the early 2000′s. The group released a live recording in 1996 titled All Access Live! This would probably go on to be the group’s biggest recording and it also contained the group’s biggest song; “Meanwhile In The Garden”.
The Martins released what I consider to be one of the best albums of 1996, Wherever You Are. With hit songs such as “Only God Knows” and “Grace”, the Martins were at the top of their game. I have provided a clip of the song “Fly Away With You”.
Karen Peck & New River were still traveling with their band during this time period and easily one of the best groups in the live concert setting. Right On Time was the group’s album release that year and featured is the song “Glory To Glory”.
Closing out part 1 of our look at 1996 is Paid In Full. This group was just hitting the scene 15 years ago with the release of their debut album A New Start. While this recording was a collection of all previously released music, it still allowed the listener a glimpse of what this group could do. Listen to a nice arrangement of the song “The Land Of Living”.
I contemplated all week on whether I would comment on an email I received after one of my NQC recaps last week. My Wednesday night recap listed the Rambos as having one of the best sets of the evening. The next day I had an email telling me that I shouldn’t be spotlighting such a group and said individual attempted to lay out all the reasons why. The thing is, I was already aware of all the particulars of the situation. This individual wasn’t providing any new insight.
The only thing I kept thinking after reading this email was; Why cant the music speak for itself? Are Christians (or so-called) really that caught up in the personal lives of the artists that they need to know every sordid detail of their lives.
This was not the first time I received such an email. I had another instance several months ago by highlighting a certain artist in one of my classic video features.
Folks, this is a MUSIC blog that happens to focus on a style known as Southern Gospel. I will feature ANY artist that made some impact on this industry with their music.
I will present the music and let the music speak for itself.
With the buzz surrounding Chris Allman’s performance of “I Know A Man Who Can” last week at the National Quartet Convention, I thought it would be fun to pull out a 1987 video clip of the Perrys singing that song. Enjoy!
Tags: Wilburn & Wilburn
The highly anticipated Daywind debut for Wilburn & Wilburn is in the hot seat this week. Famed Gold City lead singer Jonathan Wilburn joins forces with his son, Jordan, to create a rarity in Southern Gospel music: a vocal duo.
Family Ties, the duo’s debut Daywind effort, lands at retail on 09/27/11. The father/son duo blends Country, Bluegrass, and even some occasional Blues tones for this new recording.
This eleven song collection contains nine new recordings and two song covers. The covers are “I John” and “Let’s All Go Down To The River”.
Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row (Steve Eaton) and MusicScribe (David Bruce Murray) will determine if this Wilburn & Wilburn debut is a must buy. This collaborative review offers likes and dislikes from the two of us and then gives a definitive yes or no on whether the album is a ‘must buy’.
SOUTHERN GOSPEL VIEWS FROM THE BACK ROW
- The production quality of this recording, especially on the country flavored songs, stand up to most country albums I have heard this year. Hat tip to Ben Isaacs for some absolutely near perfect production work.
- It will not be long before Jordan Wilburn is counted among the best male vocalists in Southern Gospel music. His vocal work on this new recording is flawless.
- Speaking of Jordan, his two features near the beginning of the recording “Jesus Will” and “Devil Be Gone” (Kelly Garner/Dianne Wilkinson) are two of the best recorded songs I have heard this year. Both have bluegrass/country overtones. “Jesus Will” is a medium tempo song while “Devil Be Gone” kicks into high gear. Both of these songs need to be sent to radio.
- Jordan also turns in a great performance of the straight ahead Southern Gospel ballad; “A Cross Became My Saving Grace” (Joseph Habedank/Dianne Wilkinson).
- It seems as though Jordan is getting all the attention but Jonathan still proves why he was such a great lead singer. The album’s opening track “It’s A Shore Thing” is a perfect fit for Jonathan and a great start to the recording.
- “I John” and “I Ain’t Giving Up On Jesus” also deserve a mention. Great!
- I’m always up for a good Bluegrass harmony song. “You’ll Still Be There” is a favorite track for me.
- Ditto for a Blues flavored song. “I Ain’t Giving Up On Jesus” is another highlight.
- As the character in the title song, “Family Ties,” Jonathan Wilburn is singing about a subject who is sharing the stage with him. I don’t know if the song was written specifically for Wilburn & Wilburn, but it fits them perfectly.
- The instrumental interlude of “Devil Be Gone” is my single most favorite moment of the CD. I was disappointed when they came back in to sing the chorus. I could have enjoyed another couple of minutes of instrumental highlights and a fade at the end.
- The only disappointment on this recording was the cover of “Let’s All Go Down To The River”. While it held the cohesiveness of the overall tone of the recording in that country/bluegrass/blues style, the song just didn’t connect with me.
- A tall order for the duo is topping this recording with the next album.
- Songs that vamp with only a rare chord change for three minutes plus do very little for me. “I John” is one of those.
- For a “duo” recording, there’s a surprising scarcity of actual duet arrangements. Most of these songs are mixed as solos with the other chief group member’s vocals buried in the mix with a few other faceless background singers.
- There’s a sappy “Mama” song.
- YES – I listened to this recording a half-dozen times before I started this review. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being over zealous in my praise of how strong this recording is, but after the sixth listen the recording only got better. This is one of the best albums I have listened to in 2011. Family Ties will be in my iPod rotation for months to come.
- NO – Family Ties is well made and entertaining enough, but it doesn’t top Jonathan Wilburn’s best work with Gold City or blaze any bold new trails. I was looking for a few more musical risks.