Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row (Steve Eaton) and Musicscribe (David Bruce Murray) join forces once again to present the ‘must buy or not’ feature. Highlights and dislikes will be offered along with a definitive yes or no on whether the album is a ‘must buy’.
In this week’s edition of the ‘must buy or not’ feature, we take a look at the new album from the Oak Ridge Boys. Back Home Again hit retail on Tuesday (05/22/12). The group continues their streak of releasing Gospel material as Back Home Again is an all Gospel recording.
Song list: (1) “Lead Me To The Rock” – Traditional (2) “Back Home Again” – John Denver (3) “Led Out Of Bondage” – R. L. Prather (4) “I Get To” – Sherrie Austin, Will Nance, Steve Williams (5) “In That Great Gettin’ Up Morning” – Traditional (6) “Why Me” – Kris Kristofferson (7) “Standing In The Need Of Prayer” – Traditional (8) “Coat Of Many Colors” – Dolly Parton (9) “The Love Of God” – F. M. Lehman (10) “River Of Jordan” – Hazel Houser (11) “If We Ever Needed The Lord Before We Sure Do Need Him Now” – Thomas A. Dorsey (12) “Heaven Bound” – Bobby Springfield
- Songs that haven’t been over recorded. Back Home Again tends to use songs that have been recorded many times over the last several years. The bright spots are the Oaks versions of “Lead Me To That Rock”, “Standing In The Need Of Prayer” (short, but one of my favorites from the recording), “River Of Jordan” and “Heaven Bound”.
- William Lee Golden still turning in great baritone performances. He can communicate a lyric with warm soothing tones. Such is the case with the title track “Back Home Again”.
- Richard Sterban is also still laying down some low bass notes. He also is able to take a lead with ease (see “Led Out Of Bondage” and “Why Me”).
- The nice harmony moments the Oaks create, especially on Lehman’s classic “The Love Of God”, is a treat for listeners who have followed the Oak Ridge Boys career for any length of time.
- “Back Home Again” was written and recorded by John Denver years ago, but it sounds like it was written specifically for William Lee Golden. If you loved his version of “Beautiful Bluebird” on The Boys Are Back, you’ll love this one too.
- When William Lee Golden is featured on melody with Richard Sterban, Duane Allen and Joe Bonsall on harmony, that is THE definitive Oaks sound. You can hear it on the choruses of “Why Me” and again on “River Of Jordan.”
- It was good to hear a different take on Dolly Parton’s “Coat Of Many Colors” and an updated version of one of my favorite Oaks songs, “Heaven Bound.”
- “I Get To”. This song has been recorded and singled by both Three Bridges and Jeff & Sheri Easter in a span of less than two years. While there is nothing wrong with the Oaks version, here’s hoping we don’t get another single of this song.
- I found the vocal performance on “In That Great Gettin’ Up Morning” over done and forced.
- I like the way the music gets out-of-the-way on “Led Out Of Bondage” for Richard Sterban’s verses by backing down to short chords on the beat and percussion, but I was expecting the Oaks to deliver an original vocal arrangement. If you’ve heard this song by the Statesmen, Statlers and the Cathedrals, you’re pretty much going to hear the same thing again.
- This CD proves the traditional Black Gospel style isn’t entirely comfortable for the Oaks. On “In That Great Gettin’ Up Morning,” Joe Bonsall’s dialect (“gettin’ up MAWH-nin”) is a caricature of traditional Black Gospel stereotypes and as Steve indicated, overdone. “If We Ever Needed The Lord Before” is somewhat better, but mainly for non-stylistic elements like Richard Sterban crushing his low notes.
- There’s an awkward key change going into the second verse of “The Love Of God.”
- YES – I was really on the fence with this one. It could have gone either way slightly. So, I will give it a slight yes. While it doesn’t match the caliber of recent Gospel recordings like From The Heart and Common Thread, it still has some good moments.
- NO – I was on the fence as well, but mine is a slight no. Several strong songs pulled me toward an affirmative, but I can’t overlook the weak spots on Back Home Again.