DID YOU KNOW?: We just came out of another Thanksgiving day, thinking about all the things we are thankful for. Did you know there are just over 2,100 songs in BMI’s catalog that use the word Thanks in the title. If that wasn’t enough, there are nearly another 1,500 in ASCAP’s catalog. Giving thanks is a universal theme, even if religion is not a part of your everyday life. Southern Gospel music have had some lasting songs that also convey the word thanks; from “Thanks” to “Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me”. Here are a few more that convey thanks for what Christ did for us.
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- Album – Without A Sound
- Artist – Steeles
- Label – Custom
- Style – Traditional, Progressive
- Release Date – 11/13/15
- Available For Digital Download? – Yes
For listeners who have been following Southern Gospel music for at least twenty years will know the name; Steele. With Jeff Steele penning 99% of everything the group ever recorded, the Steeles burst on the scene in 1991 with an instant top 40 hit; “I Wanna Go Home”.
The group would garner four #1 hits during their career and pick up album of the year at the 1997 Singing News fan awards. The Steeles came off the road a decade ago for Jeff to accept a pastor’s position. Last year, the Steeles returned to Southern Gospel radio with another top ten hit; “But God”.
As a result of the success, the group went back in the studio to record, Without A Sound. This 2015 release is a collection of 5 newer hits along with 7 covers from (2) past Steele recordings. Joining Jeff and Sherry Steele on Without A Sound to complete the trio is Matthew Thompson.
- During their time on the road, Sherry Steele was a favorite female vocalist of mine. One of my all time favorite Sherry features was re-recorded on Without A Sound; “He Went All The Way”. Sherry conveys the message of the great lengths Christ went for each of us because of his ultimate love. I love this song!
- The Steeles had a huge return hit in 2014 with “But God”. They had an accompanying concept video that fit the song perfectly. Jeff’s songwriting talent is evident on a song like “But God”. The version on Without A Sound is even an updated version from last year’s radio single version with added production elements.
- Another new song for the Steeles takes a page from the Southern Gospel classic, “Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me” with a lot of the same sentiments in a song titled “I Have Been Blessed”. Look for this song on Southern Gospel radio sometime in 2016.
- Back to some previously recorded songs; the Steeles had a top 20 hit in 2003 with “Who’s At The Door”. I was glad to hear this song covered on Without A Sound. I still remember a skit acted out to this song, that still makes it all the more powerful.
- Another up tempo cover that needs another listen is “Say So”. This song of praise will have you singing along before it finishes. You may even find yourself hitting repeat.
- I’ll close by highlighting “Sing Praise”. Originally listed as “No God Like Jehovah” when it was originally recorded. This updated version is better than the original.
- Strongest songs included in order: “He Went All The Way”, “But God”, “Who’s At The Door”, “I Have Been Blessed”, “Say So”, “Sing Praise” and “We’re All Human”.
- Jeff has been known for his ‘call to action’ songs, made popular in the late 1990’s. The Steeles are probably most noted for one of these type songs; “We Want America Back”. The title track, “Without A Sound” could be classified as a ‘call to action’ song. While not as blatant as “We Want America Back”, the song still conveys this myth of so-called Christian persecution in America. But I will give Jeff a pass because the song doesn’t specifically centralize America and can relate to real persecution that is happening around the world, especially in the middle east.
- The album is also a bit ballad heavy with eight slower tempo songs. Two more up tempo numbers would have balanced it better.
- Weakest songs included in order: “Eternally”.
I am happy to see the Steeles recording again. They have provided Southern Gospel music with a multitude of great songs throughout their career. With songs like “But God” and “I Have Been Blessed”, I believe the Steeles have picked up where they left off a decade ago. While not available yet, Without A Sound will soon be available through iTunes. I know there are a large group of Southern Gospel listeners who were not listening when the Steeles made their impact. Pick up Without A Sound to make your introduction to the newly re-vamped Steeles.
SONG/Featured Vocalist – All songs written by Jeff Steele; New or Song Cover: 1. “Without A Sound”/Jeff – New 2. “Sing Praise“/Sherry – original on By Grace, Through Faith (2002) 3. “Who’s At The Door”/Jeff – original on By Grace, Through Faith (2002) 4. “Whatever You Have Left”/Sherry – original on By Grace, Through Faith (2002) 5. “The Land Of Beginning Again”/Sherry – original on Standing Room Only (2004) 6. “Voice Of The Martyrs”/Jeff; Sherry – original on Standing Room Only (2004) 7. “Say So”/Jeff; Sherry – original on By Grace, Through Faith (2002) 8. “He Went All The Way”/Sherry – original on By Grace, Through Faith (2002) 9. “But God”/Jeff – New 10. “I Have Been Blessed”/Jeff – New 11. “Eternally”/Jeff; Sherry – New 12. “We’re All Human”/Ensemble – New
Today concludes voting in the 2nd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors. The final two categories are best recorded song and album for 2015. You get one vote per day and polls will remain open for one week. Once voting is complete I will have a wrap up post listing all the winners of the 2015 honors. Thanks for participating. Click the link on each nominee to see an audio version of the nominees.
Recorded Song of the Year (song recorded on a 2015 release, did not have to be a radio single)
- “Greater” – Nathan Cochran/David Garcia/Ben Glover/Barry Graul/Bart Millard/Mike Scheuchzer/Robby Shaffer; recorded by the Erwins (Ready To Sail)
- “Jesus Loves You” – Sheri Easter/Don Poythress/Kenna Turner West; recorded by Jeff & Sheri Easter (Small Town)
- “Pray Now” – Dave Clark/Michael Farren/Karen Peck; recorded by Karen Peck & New River (Pray Now)
- “Thank You For Saving Me” – Michael Farren/Greg Sykes; recorded by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (Happy People)
- “Tumbling Down” – Michael Farren/Kenna Turner West; recoded by Canton Junction (Every Hallelujah)
Album of the Year (had to be a 2015 release)
- A New Look – Kingdom Heirs (Sonlite Records)
- Happy People – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (Stow Town Records)
- Moments Like These – Bowling Family (Daywind Records)
- Pray Now – Karen Peck & New River (Daywind Records)
- Ready To Sail – Erwins (Stow Town Records)
The final two days of voting in the 2nd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors. Today you get a chance to choose the best single and song cover for 2015. You get one vote per day and polls will remain open for one week. Click the link on each nominee to see an audio version of the nominees.
Radio Single of the Year (had to be a chart hit from January to December 2015)
- “Battle Cry” – Lee Black/Joel Lindsey/Sue C Smith; recorded by the Kingsmen (Battle Cry)
- “Beauty Of The Blood” – Michael Farren/Joseph Habedank/Tony Wood; recorded by Joseph Habedank (Welcome Home)
- “Happy People” – Ernie Haase/Wayne Haun/Joel Lindsey; recorded by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (Happy People)
- “Jesus Is In The House” – Karen Gillespie/Rachel McCutcheon; recorded by 11th Hour (Picture This)
- “Sometimes It Takes A Mountain” – Gloria Gaither/Mark Mathes; recorded by the Gaither Vocal Band (Sometimes It Takes A Mountain)
Song Cover of the Year (a previously recorded song covered on a 2015 album release)
- “Eyes Of Jesus” – Goodman Revival (Song In The Key Of Happy); Joel Hemphill
- “Greatest Of All Miracles” – Jim Brady Trio (A New Chapter); Squire Parsons
- “I Claim The Blood” – Perrys (Sing); Joel Hemphill
- “Joshua Led God’s Children” – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (Happy People); Vep Ellis
- “Let The Blood Of Calvary Speak For Me” – Greater Vision (As We Speak); Candy Christmas; Lari Goss; Joel Hemphill
DID YOU KNOW?: The everyday use of the term, Thank God, as an interjection to express relief, leaves many individuals lips without realizing the strength found in that two-word statement. As we approach another Thanksgiving holiday, let’s truly think about that two-word proclamation as we share special moments with family and friends.
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- Album – After All This Time
- Artist – Talleys
- Label – Horizon Records
- Style – Traditional, Progressive
- Release Date – 12/11/15
- Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music/Spotify)
The Talleys have been a mainstay in Southern Gospel music going on 33 years. They have been providing progressive Southern Gospel music to listeners since the beginning.
They close out 2015 by providing another in a lost list of quality Southern Gospel music recordings. Since the Talleys return in 1996, they have spent their entire recording career with Crossroads (Horizon/Parable Records).
After All This Time doesn’t tackle any new ground musically for the Talleys, instead staying consistent with the sound they have been providing listeners since their inception.
- I love a good up tempo Southern Gospel song. The best on After All This Time is “My Hope Is In The Lord”. The Talleys had a hit single with a song from their 2008 album, Life Goes On, with the same title. This song, though, is not the same. This would definitely make a strong choice for radio single possibilities.
- Lauren has several stand out songs on After All This Time. At the top of the list is “There Is Coming A Day”. This song of triumph reminds the listener of what is to come for those who have a personal relationship with Christ.
- While it is nice to hear groups cover classic songs from other artists, I particularly enjoy when an artist goes back and pulls a classic from their own catalog. The Talleys go back to their debut Canaan Records album (Wherever I Am, 1984) to cover the hit single, “Naaman”. I remember listening to this song as a kid and enjoyed hearing it again.
- The Talleys record two songs with similar messages about understanding that everybody you come in contact with on a daily basis is living/dealing with something. Trying to meet somebody where they’re at in life can sometimes be difficult, but is also necessary. The two songs happen to fall back to back on the recording. “Somebody’s Story” conveys the message the best of the two. It is interesting the record company chose the second to send to radio, which I’ll talk about in the critique section.
- The album’s opening track sets the pace for the rest of the album. Give “After All This Time” a listen. I’ll think you’ll agree.
- I shouldn’t leave a Talleys review without mentioning Debra. Her strongest feature on the new album is “This Thing Called Grace”. I am not surprised this song is from the pens of Rebecca Peck and Dianne Wilkinson.
- As one would expect, the production and overall song selection for After All This Time is top of the line.
- Strongest songs included in order: “There Is Coming A Day”, “My Hope Is In The Lord”, “This Thing Called Grace”, “Naaman”, “After All This Time”, “Somebody’s Story” and “Jesus’ Blood Is Enough”.
- I mentioned two songs that conveyed the same message of understanding the people you come in contact with on a daily basis. I mentioned “Somebody’s Story” conveyed the message the best. The other is a song the record company chose as the first single; “The People In The Line”. I don’t dislike the song, but having both back to back, it’s as if the listeners are being asked to choose which of the two songs are better.
- From an artistic stand point, I tend to have a problem when a songwriter takes a melody already written by a composer and slaps new words to them. Gloria Gaither used the melody to “Aura Lee”, a song published in 1861 to pen “But I Need You More”. But Gloria wasn’t the first to use this melody. Many will remember the melody from Elvis Presley’s re-write of “Aura Lee”, when he recorded “Love Me Tender”.
- Weakest songs included in order: “But I Need You More” and “I Love To Tell The Story/Blessed Assurance”.
Consistency is a term used in abundance as it relates to Southern Gospel music. The majority of established artists in Southern Gospel music doesn’t stray from the musical style they started their careers. Southern Gospel listeners tend to overwhelmingly support that consistency. If the Talleys is an artist filling up your musical playlists, then you will want to add After All This Time to the mix when it release on December 11th.
SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter: 1. “After All This Time”/Debra; Ensemble – Lee Black, Kenna West, Tony Wood 2. “There Is Coming A Day“/Lauren – Jason Cox, Sue C Smith, Kenna West 3. “There’s Never Been A Mountain”/Ensemble – Niles Borop, John D Rowsey, John Starnes 4. “This Thing Called Grace”/Debra – Rebecca Peck, Dianne Wilkinson 5. “Naaman”/Lauren – Eleanor A Wright 6. “Jesus’ Blood Is Enough”/Lauren – Chuck Butler, Adam Palmer, Tony Wood 7. “My Hope Is In The Lord”/Ensemble – Dean Hickman, John D Rowsey 8. “But I Need You More”/Debra – Gloria Gaither, Traditional Melody 9. “The People In The Line”/Lauren – Lee Black, Joyce DeBoard, Sue C Smith 10. “Somebody’s Story”/Roger – Lee Black, Dixie Phillips, Sue C Smith 11. “Who But God”/Lauren – Ronny Hinson, Mike Payne 12. “I Love To Tell The Story/Blessed Assurance”/Lauren – Fanny Crosby, William G Fischer, Arbella C Hankey, Phoebe Knapp
Today you get a chance to choose the best quartet and album cover design for 2015. You get one vote per day and polls will remain open for one week. Click the link/picture on each nominee to see a video/larger version of the nominees.
Artist – Quartet
Album Cover Design (best album artwork/cover design from a 2015 release)
This week I get back to the least remarkable song series. The song ranked 12th among the least remarkable recorded in the history of Southern Gospel music borrows some inspiration from an automobile.
Teddy Huffam and his group the Gems won a talent contest in 1973 at the Hopper Brothers and Connie’s annual singing at Watermelon Park. They had their first album out by 1974 and released their first album with Canaan Records in 1977.
That first recording with Canaan (That All May Be One) had a song written by Teddy titled “Jesus Is The Headlight”. While the rest of the song conveys a message worth hearing, that specific line in the song absolutely ruins the performance. While I can get behind a song conveying Jesus as a lighthouse, I don’t think I can with a headlight.
Here is an audio clip of Teddy Huffam and the Gems performing the song ranked 12th among the least remarkable in the history of Southern Gospel music; “Jesus Is The Headlight”.