Another week, another ten on ten feature. This week finds an artist whose recording career spans nearly 50 years. The Dixie Echoes released their first recording in 1963. Their discography now consists of over 60 recordings. A group that was the product of JG Whitfield and later purchased by Dale Shelnut. The group transitioned to Randy Shelnut at the passing of Dale Shelnut in 1983. The group continues today under the leadership of Randy Shelnut Jr and Stewart Varnado.
How do you determine the ten best recordings of a group with an extensive recording career like the Dixie Echoes? While tough, it was completed. Here are the results.
The Dixie Echoes ten best albums are:
- Live (1973)
- Harvest Of New Hits (1974)
- Press On (2002)
- Sounds Of Sunday (2006)
- Shades Of Thought (1970)
- A New Chapter (2005)
- Assurance (1982)
- Exciting And Inspiring (1968)
- One Mind And Many Chords (1991)
- Memories – A Tribute To Dale Shelnut (1983)
- The strongest period of the Dixie Echoes career came between the years 1968 and 1974. It is not surprising that 4 of the group’s top 10 albums are from this time period. The legends in the group sometime during this time frame, in addition to Dale Shelnut, were Bobby Clark, Coy Cook, Larry Ford, Tim Riley, Calvin Runion, Billy Dale Sexton, Vaughn Thacker and Ken Turner.
- The group’s #1 album was their 1973 release Live. This was recorded in Gadsden Alabama the same night the Kingsmen also recorded a landmark album; Big And Live. ”He’s More Than Just A Swear Word”, “Life Can Have New Meaning”, “I Want To See Jesus”, “Walking The Sea” and “Trouble In My Way” all highlight this album.
- The very next year the Dixie Echoes followed up Live with Harvest Of New Hits. This 1974 album ranks #2 among the Dixie Echoes best albums. One of Dale Shelnut’s all time biggest songs, “My Real Home” is found on this album.
- The biggest modern era Dixie Echoes recordings are Press On (2002) and Sounds Of Sunday (2006). The albums rank #3 and #4 respectively. Since you can still find Press On in CD format, it is the one Dixie Echoes recording that every Southern Gospel listener should have in their collection.
- Dale Shelnut was another of those larger than life stage personalities. He could command a stage like few could. Few groups, during the height of the Dixie Echoes popularity, wanted to follow them on stage.
- The group released what would be their final album with Dale Shelnut in 1982 titled Assurance. This legend left us way too soon when he suffered a heart attack in 1983. Both the Assurance album and the Tribute To Dale Shelnut Album is among the group’s ten best.
- The group is at a place again in their career where they command a stage. In the early part of the 2000′s, Randy Shelnut decided to re-invent the group by going retro. He decided the group would do every concert around two mics. The group continues to impress with vocals and light musical accompaniment.
- The forgotten gem in the Dixie Echoes discography is their 2005 effort, A New Chapter. One of the strongest song selections of any album in the group’s career.
- As with any group, there is also that album that should be forgotten. In the Dixie Echoes case that album is their 1994 recording One More Celebration. Speaking of the ’90s, there is only one album from that decade that ranks among the group’s ten best. That album is their 1991 recording One Mind And Many Chords.
- Since the Dixie Echoes have such a large discography there are a few honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the top 10 but still deserve a mention: Heaven Is What Dreams Are Made Of (1997), New Sounds (1972), Coast To Coast (1979), So Many Reasons (2008) and Reunion (2000).
***NEXT UP ON TEN ON TEN: KAREN PECK & NEW RIVER***