Now that the new mega-blog name has been determined and we are all in the process of transitioning, I wanted to begin bringing back some regular features. This week I wanted to offer a sghistory.com retro spotlight.
This retro spotlight takes a look at JD Sumner and the Stamps 1972 Heart Warming album, Something Special. The two-year time period of 1971/1972 with the Stamps vocal line-up of Bill Baize (tenor), Donnie Sumner (lead), Ed Enoch (baritone), Richard Sterban (bass) and JD Sumner was one of the best in Southern Gospel quartet history.
This particular vocal line-up released five albums during that two-year period. Something Special was the final album to be released by this line-up. Listen to sound bytes from JD Sumner and the Stamps 1972 album, Something Special. Enjoy!
This week’s ten on ten feature highlights one of Southern Gospel music’s biggest quartets; JD Sumner and the Stamps. JD Sumner was a larger than life personality both on and off stage. To his work with the Blackwood Brothers, then taking over the Stamps and ultimately the Stamps singing back up with Elvis Presley. This ten on ten feature will take a look at the recording career of the Stamps from the group’s 1966 recording The New, Very New Sound through The Final Sessions; the final new album released in 1999.
JD Sumner and the Stamps top ten albums are:
Live At Murray State University (1975)
The Exciting Stamps Quartet (1970)
Live In Nashville (1971)
The Touch Of His Hand (1971)
What A Happy Time (1974)
The Final Sessions (1999)
Signs Of A Good Life (1969)
Let’s Have Church (1995)
Sweet Song Of Salvation (1972)
Victory Road (1990)
Live albums were game changers for artists in the 1970′s. Listening to those albums now, captures an era in Southern Gospel that many current listeners were not around to experience. JD Sumner & Stamps two live recordings from the 1970′s sit at the top of the list; the #1 album being the 1975 recording Live At Murray State University.
The vocal line-up on the Live At Murray State University album was Bill Baize (Tenor), Ed Enoch (Lead), Ed Hill (Baritone) and Sumner (Bass). You can’t beat “A Soul Such As I”, “In His Hands”, “Rainbow Of Love”, “Thank God For The Old Rugged Cross” and “I Can Feel The Touch Of His Hand”. One of Southern Gospel’s best live recordings. Actually one of Southern Gospel’s best albums.
The top studio album from the group is the 1970 recording JD Sumner And The Exciting Stamps Quartet. Not to be confused with the compilation recording released in 1971 with the same title, the 1970 Heartwarming release contained the group’s original cut of “The Night Before Easter”. This recording also contained strong selections in “The Army Of The Lord”, “I’ve Been Born Again”, “My Non Stop Flight” and “When God’s Chariot Comes”.
JD Sumner & Stamps had many great vocalists spend time with the group. Bill Baize, James Blackwood Jr, Ed Enoch, Ed Hill, Jim Hill, Mylon LeFevre, Roy McNeil, Richard Sterban, Rick Strickland, Donnie Sumner, Jack Toney, Jerry Trammell and Steve Warren to name a few.
The other live recording to land among the best of the Stamps was the 1971 Live In Nashville album. This was the first album to feature Richard Sterban at bass. Richard spent a couple of years with JD Sumner & Stamps before joining the Oak Ridge Boys.
The late ’60s and early ’70s era was JD Sumner & Stamps at their best. The music they were releasing during this time period is some of the finest Southern Gospel quartet music you’ll find.
The group saw a re-birth in the 1990′s. Three albums released during that decade is among the groups ten best. The top ’90s album is The Final Sessions released in 1999. Recorded prior to JD’s death in 1998, it was haunting to hear JD on “Ole Man Death” once the album was released.
Another of JD’s signature ’90s performances was “The Lord Still Lives In This Old House” recorded on the 1995 album Let’s Have Church. I would also consider this the forgotten gem in the group’s discography. For all new Southern Gospel listeners, if there is one fairly recent JD Sumner & Stamps recording you should have in your collection, Let’s Have Church is the one.
The album that should be forgotten in the group’s discography is the 1980 album I Believe In The Old Time Way. JD Sumner & Stamps just don’t sound the same with a female vocalist in the group.
JD Sumner and the Stamps are rarely ever named when Southern Gospel historians look at the industry’s biggest quartets. One will usually hear groups like Statesmen, Cathedrals and Blackwood Brothers mentioned first. As already stated the music released in the late ’60s and early ’70s by JD Sumner & Stamps is some of the finest quartet music you’ll hear in Southern Gospel music.
With NQC fast approaching I thought it appropriate to present some quartet clips. Also, on a programming note, Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row will be providing nightly recaps of the entire week of NQC starting Monday night (09/12/11).
This first clip is from the Cathedrals. From the Gospel Jubilee television program from 1991 comes the song “Climbing Higher And Higher”.
“Climbing Higher And Higher” – Cathedrals (1991)
Next up is the Florida Boys from a 1988 television performance singing “Over There”.
“Over There” – Florida Boys (1988)
Finally we’ll close with JD Sumner & Stamps from 1991 singing the quartet classic “So High”. Enjoy!
This week I want to offer another retro spotlight feature. The year is 1973 and with the volume of music I have from this specific year I will provide two parts. I enjoy taking the time and pulling out classic music from a specific period in the history of Southern Gospel music. To allow the readers a glimpse of a different era and even allow myself to enjoy music that I was not around to hear when it was first released. Sit back, relax and enjoy this glimpse of 1973.
The Cathedrals were not a top the Southern Gospel industry during this era of their career. Recording for Canaan Records in the 1970′s, the group released several great albums during this decade. Younce, Payne, Tremble, Webster and Bill Dykes were members at the time the group released The Last Sunday. Listen to a clip of the title track.
The Downings had hit their stride releasing two albums in 1973; Greater and A Love Story…Love Beyond Compare. This was about the time the Downings started flirting with the more contemporary sounds of the day but to today standards it would be considered classic Southern Gospel. Listen to “Praise The Lamb Of God” from the Love Story album.
The Galileans were an all male trio that started recording in the late 1960′s. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe they were the only hispanic group to record and tour the Southern Gospel circuit. Each of their recordings would include a couple of songs sung in spanish. In 1973 the group released Plenty Of Time. Listen to “Cordero”.
The Hinsons were growing in popularity at this time. The Gospel Singing Jubilee television program was a great catalyst for their success. Their Calvary Records release in 1973 was We Promise You Gospel. True ‘Hinson’ sounds can be heard on “The Upward Way” featuring Larry on the second verse.
Jerry Goff spent some time with the Thrasher Brothers in the late ’60s/early ’70s before forming his own group, Jerry & the Singing Goffs. Jerry is known today as a concert emcee and trumpet player. His group found success through the early ’80s before disbanding. In 1973 the group released Live Here Tonight.
The Speers were recording some of the best music of the group’s entire career during the early 1970′s. At this time frame Sue Dodge and Jeanne Johnson held down the female vocal parts while Harold Lane, Brock Speer and Ben Speer completed the vocal line-up. Touring That City was a popular song during this time period and became the name of the group’s album in 1973. Listen to a great performance of “We’re Not Home Yet Children”.
JD Sumner & The Stamps were spending most of this decade singing with Elvis Presley. That didn’t limit to release of Gospel Music material from the Stamps. In fact some of the best music of this group’s career came with the line-up of Bill Baize, Donnie Sumner, Ed Enoch, Richard Sturben (before departing to the Oak Ridge Boys) and JD Sumner. Leaning On The Arms Of Jesus had a great song with “I’ve Never Been Out Of His Care”.
To close out part one of the retro spotlight of 1973 is the Thrasher Brothers. Like the Oak Ridge Boys, the Thrasher Brothers would dabble in the mainstream country music market by the end of the decade. In 1973 the group was still recording for Canaan Records. Pick These was the release from this specific year. Listen to the group on a song titled “I’ll Get My Reward”.
In this week’s retro spotlight I chose a very special year; at least it was for me. Some of you may get that. I am going to take a look at some albums released in 1975. As I began pulling out music from this specific year I found there was enough music to create two parts to this week’s retro spotlight.
There were several live recordings released by the HeartWarming records label in 1975. One of those was the Downings, Praise Him! The Downings were coming close to the end of their career about this time period. The group would release several more albums before coming off the road.
The Happy Goodmans were still riding high in the mid ’70s. By 1975 the group released Covered In Warmth. This album marked Vestal’s return to the group.
The Hinsons were also creating a name for themselves during this time period. Chris Hawkins (Freeman) joined the group in 1974 and would remain with the group until 1979/1980. The group released two albums in 1975, one of those being Harvest Of Hits. A song that would become a standard for the group was “The Touch Of The Master’s Strong Hand”.
JD Sumner & the Stamps were touring regularly with Elvis Presley during the mid ’70s. One of the quartet’s most recognized albums was released in 1975. Live At Murray State University was the Stamps at their best. “I Can Feel The Touch Of His Hand” was always one of my favorites.
The Kingsmen were picking up steam after the release of Big And Live in 1973. By 1975 their release for Canaan Records was an album titled Jubilation. Several songs from this recording would go on to become Kingsmen classics including “Shoutin’ Happy” and “When My Feet Touch The Streets Of Gold”.
While the group may not be remembered, the songwriter in this group surely will be. Lanny Wolfe was among the top songwriters of this era. His group, the Lanny Wolfe Trio, was a mainstay in Southern Gospel music during the 1970′s. In 1975 the group released Shout It…Jesus Is Coming.
Wendy Bagwell & Sunliters had a long and storied career that dates back to the early 1960′s. The three individuals (Wendy Bagwell, Jerri Morrison, Jan Buckner) remained intact for the group’s entire career up until Wendy’s passing in the 1990′s. In 1975 the group released The Spirit In ’76.
To close out part one of 1975 is Willie Wynn & Tennesseans. Willie was known for the many years spent with the Oak Ridge Boys. This popular tenor saw several years of success with the Tennesseans. The group would release their first recording in 1975 titled Presenting. Having Elmer Cole (noted songwriter) in the group brought them many great songs. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for part two of 1975.
I want to continue my look at the year 1992 with part two of retro spotlight. Here are eight more recordings that were released in Southern Gospel music during the year 1992.
Let’s kick off part two with the Cathedrals. Campmeeting Live was the recording released by the Cathedrals in 1992. It was mostly a collection of songs previously recorded by the group. It was a live concert released in both audio and video. Here’s an encore of the classic “What A Meeting”.
The Hayes Family have been a main stay in the Southern Gospel music industry for many years. From Boone NC, this family group has remained consistent with their style and presentation. From the 1992 album, All We Have Is Jesus, is a clip of “Look Up You’re Going Home”.
After disbanding in 1988, the Hinsons returned in 1992 with a reunion project and then embarked on a reunion tour. The project, One More Hallelujah was filled with many great songs that have since been recorded by other artists. One of those songs is “I’ve Been To Heaven”, most recently covered by the Hoppers.
JD Sumner put the Stamps Quartet back together around 1987 after the Masters Five stopped touring. JD Sumner & the Stamps Quartet would continue touring through the 1990′s until JD Sumner’s death. The group released an album in 1992 titled Master Of The Wind. The first track from that recording was a song written by Dolly Parton, “Don’t Let Your Left Hand Know”.
Karen Peck & New River started their career in 1991 after Karen exited the Nelons. The group’s second album was released in 1992 titled Restoration. One of my favorite songs from that recording and also one of my favorite Southern Gospel songs of that year was the song “When Jesus Passes By”.
There was a family group out of Mississippi by the name of the McFalls that hit the scene sometime in the late 1980′s. They recorded and toured for about five years. Many will not remember this family group but some may know the father, James McFall. He was best known as songwriter for the Southern Gospel classic, “Thank God I’m Free”. The McFalls released Rapture Ready in 1992 and had a great song titled “Jesus Still Saves (Delivers And Heals)”.
Hovie Lister decided to put the Statesmen back together for a brief time in the early ’90s. Their first recording back was Revival in 1992. One of the strongest songs on that recording was “Every Eye Shall See”.
While there were still additional recordings I would’ve included from 1992 I think I will close out this year with the Wilburns. One of my favorite albums released in 1992 was the Wilburns, First Class. The group introduced “Outside The Gate”. This song was a show stopper in concert and several groups have recently recorded the song including Ricky Atkinson & Compassion and Tribute Quartet.
Quick Reminder: One more day to get your answers in for the NQC webcast giveaway. The winner will be announced on Thursday 09/09/10.
Now let’s get to this week’s smack down. This week we have a great quartet number titled “Let Me Live”. Originally recorded on JD Sumner & Stamps 1972 album, Sweet Song Of Salvation, this song is for any fan of great bass singing. Richard Sterban was with the Stamps at this time and is featured on both verses of the song. It’s one of those quartet numbers that start slow on the verse and then the tempo increases when it gets to the chorus. This was really a stellar line up for the Stamps at this time period with Bill Baize, Donnie Sumner, Ed Enoch and Richard Sterban. The Stamps will take the first verse and chorus.
A young quartet decided they would cover this song on their 2009 recording, Driven. Driven Quartet allows bass singer Will Lane to really shine on this number. As is the case with most covers, the arrangement of Driven’s version doesn’t stray too far from the original. Driven Quartet has yet to really get noticed by the Southern Gospel masses, but they are a fine quartet and probably one of the finest among today’s young quartets. Driven will take the second verse and chorus.