Change is in the air. Time to turn the page on a new month, a chance to look ahead to new opportunities. As I start any new month, I will take a look at the five current radio songs that received the most listens on my iPod over the preceding month. The Anchormen has another winning single, while solo artists Lynda Randle and Ivan Parker each have a current strong radio song. The Bowling Family and Roy Knight Singers round out the top five. Enjoy!
The final three sets of album covers need to be ranked. This week I need you to rank set 18 from 1 to 6 (1 being best, 6 being worst). Once we get through the 20 sets of album covers, the readers will vote on what they consider to be the best and worst. Click on thumbnail for larger image.
Believe – Anchormen (2012)
Reflections – Common Bond (1997)
Mountain Heritage – Greenes (1992)
Prime – Hinsons (1979)
Children Of Azusa Street – Lanny Wolfe Trio (1986)
One of the biggest surprises of 2012 comes in at #3 among the best albums and recorded songs of year. The Anchormen (yes, I said the Anchormen) hold both the #3 spot for album and recorded song.
This was the first album I reviewed in 2012 that really caught my attention. What I didn’t realize at the time was this album would remain one of the strongest albums I listened to in 2012. The vocal line-up at the time of the recording was Karl Rice (tenor), Dale Forbes (lead), Terry Carter (baritone) and Paul Harkey (bass). Paul Harkey can relish in the fact that he was part of two quartet albums released in 2012 that I named two of the top five albums of the year (see #5 – LeFevre Quartet).
Personnel changes continue to plague the Anchormen. Terry and Karl remain the only members still part of the Anchormen, as of this writing, that was on this #3 album release of 2012. Luckily I am not ranking the best artists of the year but the best album released in Southern Gospel music. The Anchormen can be proud that 2012 brought them one of the best albums of the group’s entire recording career. Truly Believe!
Personal favorites from this recording include: ”Where Love Stood”, “I Enter In”, “Borrowed And Barely Used Tomb”, “Meet Him There”, “This Time Tomorrow” and “Some Things I Know”.
Not only did the Anchormen have the #3 album of 2012 in Southern Gospel music, but the group also has the recorded song ranked #3 among the best of the year.
There were several songs that could easily be part of the twenty best of the year, but the song that stood out above any other was “Where Love Stood”. What makes this song even a bigger surprise is that Paul Harkey sings the lead on the song. But, he is not singing bass but is actually singing lead. It is no surprise Ernie Haase picked up this talented performer to join Signature Sound.
The strong lyrical ballad was penned by Donna Beauvais and Matthew Garinger. Listen to a clip of Paul Harkey singing lead on the #3 recorded song of the year; “Where Love Stood”.
Time once again to turn the page on another month. The dog days of summer are upon us as we get ready to start August 2012. As I do each month, I want to kick off August highlighting five current radio songs that have piqued my interest.
August finds a rousing a cappella rendition of “Thou Oh Lord” by Sisters, another ‘masterpiece’ from the Booth Brothers, Susan Whisnant taking the lead on another Whisnants hit, the Anchormen offering a great up tempo quartet number and a new family group that piqued my interest after hearing their current radio song “Rise Up and Walk”. Enjoy!
Reader requests continue our ten on ten feature this week. The Anchormen came together in 1979 and began their early years performing as a trio. The group added a bass singer in 1987 and have been singing as a quartet since.
It was the late 1980′s when the Anchormen started getting noticed in Southern Gospel music. As is the case with many groups in the industry, the Anchormen have seen their fair share of personnel changes through the years. It seems as though the Anchormen have put together a vocal line-up that is once again turning heads.
The Anchormen’s ten best albums are as follows:
Nothing Less Than All (2003)
In Concert (1992)
On The Threshold (1991)
Reflections Of Life (1999)
Glory Ahead (2006)
Come To The Fountain (1994)
Heart Of The Matter (1989)
Livin’ Our Dream (2005)
The Anchormen’s newest 2012 release Believe nearly dethroned what I have considered the Anchormen’s pinnacle recording; the 1995 album Adoration. When looking at the group’s ten best I still gave Adoration the top spot for the Anchormen’s best album.
Brian Routh (tenor), Dale Forbes (lead), Terry Carter (baritone) and Jeff Chapman (bass) was the vocal line-up on Adoration which gave the listener “Second Time Around”, “Beyond The Grave”, “Come On In”, “Be Still And Know” and “One More Testimony” as highlights.
That would make the group’s newest album Believe #2 among their ten best. This album saw the return of Forbes and Carter at their respective vocal spots. Karl Rice (tenor) and Paul Harkey (bass) round out this vocal line-up. Dale Forbes proves he has still got it, turning in some of the best singing of his career on Believe.
The make-up of the top ten shows the consistency the Anchormen were able to produce even with all the personnel shifts. There was no specific period that dominated the list.
The 2003 album Nothing Less Than All ranked #3 among the group’s ten best. Steve Ladd and David Hester held down the high and low ends on this particular album. Both would go on to perform with Gold City (Ladd) and the Dove Brothers (Hester). This is an all around great quartet album!
The vocal line-up that would go on to become Driven Quartet released two of the Anchormen’s ten best albums. They included 2006′s Glory Ahead (#7) and 2005′s Livin’ Our Dream (#10) . The latter was a collection of classics, but the Anchormen turned in some great performances on those particular songs.
The early ’90′s was a prime time for the Anchormen. Their 1992 album In Concert ranks #4 and the 1991 album On The Threshold ranks #5. ”We’re Gaining Ground”, “Behold The King”, “I Feel Like Running”, “It Was Amazing”, “Sooner Or Later” and “I’ve Been Touched” all highlight these two recordings.
The gem in the Anchormen’s discography is their 1989 recording Heart Of The Matter. Featuring the vocal line-up of David Walker (tenor), Biney English (lead), Terry Carter (baritone) and Jody Medford (bass), this recording is one those that Southern Gospel collectors should include in their collections.
The Anchormen have released a couple of albums that should be forgotten. The most forgettable is a 2004 recording titled Times And Seasons.
I can’t leave this ten on ten feature of the Anchormen without recognizing the late ’90′s version of the group. The vocal line-up of Steve Ladd (tenor), Philip Hughes (lead), John Stemburg (baritone) and Jeff Chapman (bass) released the album ranked at #6; the 1999 recording Reflections Of Life.
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 edition of the ‘must buy or not’ feature is the new album by the Anchormen. A couple of years in the making, due to personnel shifts, Believe finally made its way retail 02/28/12. Believe marks the return of Anchormen veterans Terry Carter (Baritone) and Dale Forbes (Lead). Holding down the high and low notes are Karl Rice (Tenor) and Paul Harkey (Bass) respectively.
Song list: (1) “Just As I Am (Prelude)” (2) “Meet Him There” – Melanie Goodman (3) “Some Things I Know” – Donna Beauvais/John Darin Rowsey (4) “Where Love Stood” – Donna Beauvais/Matthew Garinger (5) “Borrowed And Barely Used Tomb” – Charles Isbell/Zane King (6) “This Time Tomorrow” – Tim Chandler/Lana Chandler (7) “For Everybody Broken” – Lee Black/David Moffitt/Kenna West (8) “No Such Thing As Coming Clean” – Ben Storie/Dianne Wilkinson (9) “Ain’t It Good To Know” – Melanie Goodman (10) “I Enter In” – Wayne Haun/Joel Lindsey (11) “The Day Nobody Praised Him” – David Hill (12) “Just As I Am (A Cappella)”
SOUTHERN GOSPEL VIEWS FROM THE BACK ROW
This is the strongest Anchormen recording since the original Carter/Forbes era in the early ’90s.
Speaking of Dale Forbes, he is a singing machine on Believe. He has a featured lead on over half the songs on the recording. His return to the group is a huge asset. His vocal range displayed on this album easily ranks him as one of the top lead vocalists performing in Southern Gospel music right now.
Forbes lead work on “Where Love Stood”, “Borrowed And Barely Used Tomb” (great song!) and “The Day Nobody Praised Him” are stellar. “Borrowed And Barely Used Tomb” should be a radio single choice.
Terry Carter turns in a nice performance on “Meet Him There”. The listener is treated to some nice harmony singing on the chorus and even some steel guitar accompaniment. Paul Harkey is also one of the most talented young bass singers on the road. His lead vocal on “Ain’t It Good To Know” deserves a listen.
I can’t overlook the ensemble work on the group’s current radio single “I Enter In”. One of my favorite radio songs so far in 2012.
I like CDs that have an overall consistent theme, whether it be it lyrical or musical or both. Believe starts with Zane King playing a verse of “Just As I Am” on steel guitar. The CD ends with the quartet singing an a cappella verse of the same familiar invitation hymn. Using a classic hymn for bookends on a collection of new songs is preferable to the common practice of inserting a line from a familiar hymn into a new song.
“Where Love Stood” is the strongest ballad on the CD. Dale Forbes sings this lyric with feeling, conveying a deep sense of conviction.
“This Time Tomorrow” is the strongest upbeat song. Every line has an internal rhyme, so it had to be a technical challenge to write. This song also features Forbes.
In fact, most of the songs that really stand out to me on Believe feature Dale Forbes. He’s outstanding on “The Day Nobody Praised Him.” “Borrowed And Barely Used Tomb” is another strong song for the Easter season. “Some Things I Know” is a good up-tempo song as well.
SOUTHERN GOSPEL VIEWS FROM THE BACK ROW
While I was more than happy to hear Dale Forbes return with some of the best singing of his career on Believe, it would have been nice to get another feature from Terry Carter or Paul Harkey.
The current lack of availability of this recording via digital download. This is too good a recording to not have it available for those of us who no longer purchase physical CDs.
I don’t know if it was the producer, the group owner or the singers who called the shots on arrangement choices for Believe, but did they forget about Paul Harkey? Featuring Paul Harkey on just one song is comparable to having Lebron James on your basketball team and telling him to pass the ball 9 times out of 10 when he has an open shot. If Harkey hadn’t been so good on their last CD (2009′s Always A Road), I might not care so much now. But he was that good, and so I naturally had some strong expectations for this release.
I hesitate to say anything about the songwriting, because I genuinely like all the songs on Believe. There’s just a line here and there that strikes me as blah. I don’t care for “meet Him here and He’ll take you there.” It might be OK as an isolated line, but in this song it’s the hook. It’s generic. I really like the rest of the lyric, though, and everything else about the song.
SOUTHERN GOSPEL VIEWS FROM THE BACK ROW
YES – This album is classic Anchormen all the way. It reminded me of the great recordings the group released in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s. It is easily the best Anchormen album since the original Carter/Forbes era Anchormen.
YES – Despite my deep disappointment over the lopsided solo assignments, particularly for Paul Harkey, Believe is just as good as the best CDs I’ve heard in the past year or so.
UPDATE (March 27): Sometimes our ears fool us. Both Steve and David thought Dale Forbes had the lead on the song “Where Love Stood.” The tones are similar and it’s in a lead vocalist’s range, but that’s actually Paul Harkey. This obviously negates some of our complaints about the CD and makes it that much more of a Must Buy. Thank you to Brad Strider of Mercy’s Well for pointing it out to us!
Let’s kick off a new month by looking at some songs currently at radio. Here are five current Southern Gospel radio singles that have piqued my interest over the last month. From Gold City returning to #1, the Primitives having the best song of their career, Rambo McGuire honoring the Rambos legacy, the Anchormen releasing a new album and Sisters also having a career making single. Enjoy!
This week in song covers smack down we find the Biney English penned tune “It’s A Wonderful Day”. The song was originally recorded by the Anchormen, when Biney was a member, on their 1989 recording Heart Of The Matter. The song starts with the chorus and moves in to the first verse, repeats the chorus and then goes in to the second verse before closing with the chorus.
The Anchormen, during this recording, was composed of David Walker (Tenor), Biney English (Lead), Terry Carter (Baritone) and Jody Medford (Bass). The group has a full production with horns and their version is a bit more up tempo than the cover. The Anchormen will take the first chorus and verse.
Triumphant Quartet covered the song on their 2008 table project, Intermission. Triumphant’s arrangement scaled back on the horns and slowed the tempo down slightly.
The group will take the second chorus and verse. It’s a wonderful day for a smack down. Anchormen or Triumphant. Enjoy!