Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row is attempting to find the best and worst Southern Gospel album covers of all time. That is being accomplished through you, the readers. With NQC coverage filling up next week, you will get two sets of covers to rank this week (today and Friday). In the comments section, rank each cover from 1 to 6 (1 being best, 6 being worst). Click on thumbnail to see larger image.
Another reader request gives us this week’s ten on ten feature. The Freemans began touring in 1983 after Darrell’s family group the Pathways changed its name to Freemans. Darrell, Chris, Darrell’s parents and brother were in the group when it transitioned to the Freemans.
It wasn’t long until it was Darrell, Chris and Chris’ sister Diane as a trio. Darrell’s cousin Joe Freeman would soon join as pianist and the rest is history. Chris Freeman (Hawkins) was known for her nearly six years spent with the Hinsons in the 1970′s. The Freemans early sound resembled that classic Hinson sound.
The Freemans top ten albums are as follows:
Have Arrived Live (1988)
Standing Out (1997)
Once Was Enough (1992)
Eyes On The Prize (2007)
Going Back (1991)
A Way With Words (1999)
The Freemans have recorded several live recordings during their career, but it was the 1988 live recording Have Arrived Live that stands out above the rest. Not only is this the #1 album in the Freemans discography but is also one of my all time favorite live recordings in Southern Gospel music.
“Land Of The Living”, “Number One Love”, “Have You Heard”, “God Is Still On The Throne” and “Little David” all highlight this album.
The Freemans had success with the several years they spent with Daywind Records in the late ’90′s. Three efforts recorded with Daywind landed in the top ten. The highest of those is the 1997 recording Standing Out. ”I’ll Fly”, “When We Pray”, “Standing Out”, “In A Whirlwind”, “He’d Still Been God” and “What A Way To Spend Forever” send this album over the top.
The early 1990′s was probably the strongest era for the Freemans. The group picked up their first #1 song in 1991 and released two strong albums during this era. The 1992 recording Once Was Enough was one of the strongest recordings in terms of song selection. It ranks #3 among the group’s ten best. One of the Freemans all time greatest songs “Once Was Enough” kicks off this recording. The listener also gets “King Of The Hill”, “Deep Well”, “Shamed By A Rock”, “Burdens Are Lifted Away” and “Find Me Faithful”.
The other early ’90′s era recording to land in the top ten is the 1991 effort Going Back. The title track is the song that gave the Freemans their first #1 song in Southern Gospel music. This song introduced the group to a much larger listening audience and still remains the group’s biggest song.
The group’s sound has shifted to more of a traditional country sound over the course of the last several years. That is evidenced by the group’s last two recordings. The 2007 recording Eyes On The Prize started this trend and ranks #4 among the group’s ten best. Another #1 hit for the group, “He Chose Me” is found on this album. The listener will also find “Three Rugged Crosses”, “Cast In The Sea”, “I Need A Drink” and “The Grace I Remember”.
The Freeman’s most recent effort, the 2010 album Evidence, ranks #10. Two recent top ten songs for the group, “The Father And The Son” and “I Know My Way” are included on this particular album.
The gem in the group’s discography is their 1986 album Solid. One of the first songs I remember hearing on the radio by the Freemans was “Always”. That along with “On The Other Side Of Life”, “What’s That I Hear”, “Heavenly Places”, “Much Needed Touch” and “Pearly Gate” are all found on Solid.
On the other end of the spectrum, the album that should be forgotten from the Freemans discography is their 1994 audio/video recording Victory Live. I was actually in attendance during the recording of this video, but it contained songs that had already been recorded by the group on other albums.
The Freemans continue today as a family unit consisting of Darrell, Chris, Joe, Misty and Caylon. The group is nearing their 30th anniversary in Southern Gospel music. Hear is wishing the group another thirty.
Happy New Year!! Can you believe it is now 2012. With the new year brings new music and new features. To start the new year I wanted to revive a feature I had done on two previous occasions in 2011. The fab five will be a feature that will occur every month in the new year highlighting current radio songs.
I listen to a lot of Southern Gospel music both from my own personal collection and what is found on Southern Gospel radio. Each month I want to highlight five current radio singles that have piqued my interest and I feel should be shared with the readers. To kick off the new year the fab five consist of Wilburn and Wilburn, Master’s Voice, Palmetto State Quartet, 11th Hour and the Freemans. Enjoy!
This classic video spotlight is from a 1989 concert performance of the Freemans. The Felecia Shiflett penned tune “Always” was one of the top 10 songs for the entire year of 1987 and was the Freemans biggest song of the 1980′s. Enjoy!
EDIT: I knew it wouldn’t take long to find a winner. Congratulations to Terry for winning the Freemans prize pack by answering “Going Back” as the Freemans first #1 song. The year was 1991. Consider this contest closed. Be on the lookout because there will be free music giveaways throughout the year.
It is almost time to get the weekend kicked off and I feel like giving some free music away. The first one to email me the answer to the following question will win (4) Freeman CDs (all new/unopened).
1. What was the title of the Freemans first #1 song?
THE PRIZE PACK INCLUDES:
Evidence (2010) - Newest CD featuring “The Father And The Son”, “The God That Never Changes”, “I Can’t Even Walk” and more.
Closer (2003) – Features “Put Your New White Robe On”, “Sea Walker”, “Sing Hallelujah”, “King Of Kings” and more.
Highway (2001) – Features “He’d Have To Walk Through The Blood”, “He Brought Me Out”, “The Lighthouse” and more.
What If I’m Right (Misty Freeman Solo CD from 2007) – Features “Cinderella”, “Beautiful Mistakes”, “Rise To The Occasion” and more.
As I was looking at new things to present in 2011, this retro idea came to mind after talking with an individual. The individual mentioned that they would like me to present my Southern Gospel music collection. After thinking about it, I thought the best way to share it with everyone is present periodic posts by spotlighting a specific year and provide some music clips from albums released in that year. So my first retro spotlight shines the light on the year 1986. While I can’t present music from every album I own released in that year I did pull out a few from my collection.
The Bishops were just starting to make a mark in Southern Gospel music. They had two recordings prior to 1986, but in 1986 the group released the album, Can’t Stop Now. The song clip included was one of the first songs I remember hearing on the radio from this group, “Battle Scarred Soldier”.
The Cathedrals were riding high during this time period after several successful recordings leading up to 1986. Along with Master Builder, The Cathedrals also released Travelin’ Live in 1986. The clip I chose from this recording was “Homeland.”
The Freemans were recording for Calvary Records at this time period, the same label for the Hinsons. “Always” became the first top 5 song for the Freemans off of the recording Solid. The clip I chose was one of my favorite songs from the group during this time period, “God Is Still On The Throne.”
One of my all time favorite Gold City recordings was Double Take, Live In Charleston South Carolina. The album released in 1986 and featured a song that would go on to be a Gold City classic, “When I Get Carried Away.” The song clip I chose from the recording is “Loose Him And Let Him Go.”
Every five or so years there is that male trio that makes a name for themselves (Bishops, Greater Vision, Booth Brothers). During this time period it was Heaven Bound. Revived was the album released for the group in 1986. The song clip featured is “Sweet Is Thy Spirit”.
As a kid in the ’80s, my favorite group to see in concert was the Kingsmen. 1986 saw the release of Stand Up At Opryland USA. The Kingsmen were masters of the live recording during this time period. “Stand Up”, which was a re-write of a country song was a huge concert song. I featured “I Sing Because” as the clip. Listen for a young Arthur Rice take the lead on this tune.
It was around this time frame that I first became introduced to the music of the McGruders. Before being picked up by Sonlite Records, the McGruders had an album out in 1986 titled I’ve Got To Praise Jesus. This recording featured several songs written by Carroll McGruder that would go on to be huge hits for other groups, “I Lean On You Lord” and “Thanks”. The clip I featured was the title cut, “I’ve Got To Praise Jesus.”
One of the biggest songs to come out of albums released in 1986 would probably be the Talleys, “Triumphantly The Church Will Rise.” Found on their recording, United, this song became an anthem for the group and it was a show stopper when presented live.
Let me know what you think. Is there a specific year you would like me to highlight in a future retro spotlight? You can let me know in the comments.
Friday January 28th, 2011 I had the chance to attend the Tony Greene memorial concert in Lenoir NC. This was an event that used to be promoted by Tony as the annual Lenoir Gospel Winterfest. This year’s line-up was a mixed bag of artists. Here are a few highlights in order of appearance.
*McKameys - This Clinton TN based family kicked off the evening. It was interesting to see that each artist seemed to bring their own group of fans to the event. Enthusiastic while their preferred group was on and then quiet while the other artists performed. The McKameys took the audience through current hits such as “Above And Beyond, “I Keep Praying” and “The Shepherd’s Point Of View”, while also performing classics such as “God On The Mountain” and “I’ve Won.” “I’ve Won” was the closing number for the McKameys and by the time the group made it to this song, Peg’s shoes took a trip across the stage. I first saw the McKameys live sometime around 1987 and their style and presentation has remained consistent since that time.
*Brian Free & Assurance - The lone quartet on the night received a tepid response from the crowd for nearly their entire performance. It took the encore of “Long As I Got King Jesus” to get the crowd on their feet. The group did give the crowd several songs from their current recording. “Never Walk Alone”, “Anything Is Possible” and “Remind Me Of The Cross” were all great additions to the groups performance. “Go Tell The World”, “I Am Redeemed”, “Glory Road” and “You Must Have Met Him” were also in the mix.
*Taranda Greene - A memorial video of Tony Greene preceded Taranda’s solo performance. The video brought many in the crowd to tears. By the time Taranda was introduced the crowd were on their feet. Taranda started with “When God Has Another Plan”. You could tell it was tough for her to be there without Tony. She struggled through the first verse of “When God Has Another Plan” and the crowd let her know they were behind her. Most of her time was spent talking about Tony and how her life has changed since his passing. She also sang “Sky Full Of Angels”, “God Is Singing Over Me”, “Oh The Cross” and “The Hallelujah Chorus”.
*Primitives - The Primitives closed out the program with their own brand of mountain/bluegrass gospel music. “The Blood Of God’s Only Son” and “No Longer An Orphan” highlighted this group’s style.
Promoter Bill Bailey was on hand to assist with the program and he also emceed the event. It sounded as though he may take over the event in the future. Another highlight was this was the 2nd week in a row that I have been to a concert event that has been sold out. There were over 1,000 in attendance at the Crabb concert attended last week and 800 packed out the JE Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir for this event.
EXTRA CONCERT NOTE: I also had the chance on Saturday January 29th, 2011 to go to Thomasville NC.
*Freemans - Held at a Baptist church, this program was definitely more of a church service than a normal concert program. The group performed for over an hour and rolled out all of their biggest hits which included “He Chose Me”, “The Father And The Son”, “He’d Still Been God”, “Three Rugged Crosses”, “He’d Have To Walk Through The Blood”, “Sing Hallelujah”, “Seawalker” and ”Once Was Enough.” The group also threw in a few classics, “I Can’t Even Walk” and “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand.” The service ended with a powerful and moving rendition of “What A Day That Will Be”. I was glad to have been a part of this service.
Continuing with the countdown of the top 10 albums of 2010, landing at #8 is the latest recording by the Freemans. Evidence was the first new recording by the Freemans since 2007. I reviewed this album several weeks back. As I mentioned in the review, the mainstream country melodies and strong gospel lyrics is the reason this album found its way into the top 10.
Personal favorites from the recording include: “I Know My Way”, “The Father And The Son”, “Land Of Beulah”, “God That Never Changes” and “Sending Me Angels”.
Strong vocals, great country melodies and a sound that is one of a kind. Evidence, #8 for 2010.
The Bowling Family landed in the Southern Gospel news in 2010 and unfortunately it wasn’t for their music. Their bus accident back in July took them off the road for the remainder of the year. They were touring up until the accident showcasing songs from their 2010 release, Shine.
After picking up four #1 hits from their previous release, Faith To Believe, Shine has the potential of doing the same. The #8 song for 2010 is “This Is Your Moment”. The group was using this as their opening number in concerts. That introduction song in the concert setting is so important. It sets the mood for the entire program and “This Is Your Moment” was one of the best concert intro songs for the year. Take a listen.