Front Row Live – Kingsmen

kingsmen2013frontrowliveThis edition of the ‘must buy or not’ feature will be a collaborative effort from Steve Eaton and David Bruce Murray.

The Kingsmen recently released their first new album since 2011’s Grace Says.  Front Row Live is in fact a greatest hits album of previously recorded Kingsmen songs sung by the current line-up.  Speaking of the current vocal line-up, members include Chris Jenkins (tenor), Bob Sellers (lead), Randy Crawford (baritone) and Kingsmen veteran Ray Reese (bass).

Front Row Live has been available since 06/18/13.  The album is a live recording made up of performances from the 2012 National Quartet Convention.

Song list:  (1) “Traveling Home” – Luther G Presley  (2) “One Way Trip” – Doris May  (3) “He’s Everything I Need” – Joseph Habedank  (4) “Justified” – Chris Binion  (5) “Oh What A Savior” – Marvin Dalton  (6) “The Judgement” – Lois Gail Sybolt  (7) “The Next Cloud” – Sandy Knight  (8) “Loving Shepherd, Gracious God” – Dianne Wilkinson  (9) “Land Of The Free” – Phil Cross  (10) “Stand Up” – Bruce Channel, Ricky Rector, James Throckmorton

STEVE EATON

  • I tend to stay away from albums filled with previously recorded songs.  Front Row Live allows the listener to hear how the current line-up handles Kingsmen classics.
  • The brightest spots on Front Row Live are the classic ‘3 chords and a cloud of dust’ up tempo numbers the Kingsmen have been known.  Listen to “Traveling Home”, “One Way Trip”, “He’s Everything I Need” and “Stand Up” (both former #1 Kingsmen songs).
  • Chris Jenkins is the perfect style (high) tenor Kingsmen listeners will love.  He is a Kingsmen style tenor that hearken listeners back to their glory days.
  • Listeners shouldn’t tire of a recent Kingsmen hit, “Loving Shepherd Gracious God.”  Give it another listen on Front Row Live.

 

DAVID BRUCE MURRAY

  • All of the vocal performances on Front Row Live are solid.
  • Chris Jenkins has the sort of range that brings back memories of great Kingsmen tenors like Jerry Martin, Ernie Phillips and Johnny Parrack.
  • The a cappella work on “The Judgment” is spot on. This is the only song on Front Row Live that also appeared on their 2010 live recording.
  • The CD ends with “Land Of The Free” (with it’s repeated line “stand for the land of the free”) followed by “Stand Up.” Even though I wasn’t in Louisville, KY last fall for the actual live performances, it was easy to envision the dramatic patriotic song getting the crowd up on their feet and the up-tempo song keeping them there.

STEVE EATON

  • Southern Gospel live albums are so sanitized nowadays I really don’t consider them live.  Front Row Live uses the formula of taking the live moments and cleaning up the vocals with overdubs and interspersing audience clapping clips at various spots in the recording.  Definitely not the live albums the Kingsmen were known for in the ’70s/’80s.
  • Can we as a Southern Gospel industry make a unanimous decision to not record “Oh What A Savior” for at least another 20 years.  That is not the only Southern Gospel classic to showcase the tenor singer.

 

DAVID BRUCE MURRAY

  • Someday, a tenor’s head is going to pop right off of his body when he goes for a high note on “Oh What A Savior.”
  • No songwriters are credited on the CD’s printed insert. I realize all the songs have been recorded by the Kingsmen in the past, but it’s still disrespectful to ignore the writers.EDIT: I was working from a PDF copy of the artwork when I wrote this review, and failed to scroll down to the second page of the tray card art file where the songwriters ARE CREDITED. Please disregard this complaint. My bad! – DBM
  • The best live Kingsmen recordings from the past are remembered because audience’s were reacting to great new songs they were hearing for the very first time.  The Kingmen played it safe on Front Row Live by re-recording past hits rather than introducing new material.

STEVE EATON

  • NO – From an individual that owns all the original recordings of these songs, I can’t give it a ‘must buy’.  If you are a new listener to Southern Gospel and want to get some Kingsmen classics performed by the current group, then Front Row Live may be what you are looking for.

 

DAVID BRUCE MURRAY

  • YES – I am giving Front Row Live a slight “Yes” since it’s the only Kingsmen CD at this point that features the current lineup. That being said, I am way past ready to hear these guys tackle some new material.
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15 thoughts on “Front Row Live – Kingsmen

  1. I find myself struggling whether to buy it or not because of the exacts reasons you guys offered.
    I absolutely can’t stand buying an album that has mostly re-recorded songs unless their one of my top 2 or 3 favorite groups (I like the Kingsmen but they don’t fall in that category), but I also want to hear a new line-up as soon as possible in case the group changes before the next project.

    1. I didn’t make this point in the review, but another reason I went with a Yes in this instance is because this CD sounds so much better than their 2010 release titled “Live Performances From The NQC.” The concept for both CDs was essentially the same, but this one sounds a LOT better.

      I suspect there was more tweaking in the studio this time around.

      It does lack that spontaneous element that was such a hallmark of the Hamill days, though.

      1. I learn a lot from my blogger friends. Today, I learned that the Kingsmen had re-recorded my “Loving Shepherd, Gracious God” on their new live album, and as the T.V. news commentators used to say, “you heard it HERE, folks”. Great news!!!

  2. I agree with Steve…this isn’t a Kingsmen live recording like we’re accustomed to hearing. Jim Hamill surely must have turned over in his grave! LOL!

    They definitely sound good…but it’s not the same.

    1. John,
      Some fans feel that anything beyond some mild tweaking of a concert recording is deceptive.

      An overdub would be any recording that was added in the studio after the concert to enhance the original recording. Sometimes instruments are added and entire vocal tracks could also be replaced.

      A few products that were sold as “live” recordings actually were made entirely in the studio with applause dubbed in to make it sound like an audience was there. I guess they justify it, because they were alive when they did it…

  3. I agree with the comments about O WHAT A SAVIOR. There are other songs out there for the 1st tenors to sing with high notes. HIDE THOU ME is one that’s a good tenor song.

  4. Are you sure this is the only cd that features the current line-up? I think I have a recording at home with this line-up.

    1. Josh,
      It’s the only one with distribution. They may have a table project floating around somewhere that I haven’t seen.

  5. I found it Kingsmen Quartet “ONCE AGAIN”. Released in 2012″Kingsmen Music Group” the songs include
    God Sits On High
    Here Comes the Bride
    I’ll Live In Glory
    I’ve never really trusted you
    Justified
    Oh what a Savior
    One Way Trip
    I’ve Got A Reservation
    What A Happy Time In Heaven
    Without Jesus

    1. It’s interesting that they cut “Justified,” “One Way Trip” and “Oh What A Savior” on back to back CDs.

      Thanks for the info.

  6. Thanks guys! We appreciate you taking time to review our music and for your constructive criticism. I feel any good review should be like a good sermon – not meant just to tickle the ears. I did want to offer a bit of clarification/explanation on a couple of issues mentioned.

    First, regarding the songwriter credits, they are printed under the disc inside the jewel case. The Kingsmen have been blessed to record some of the greatest gospel songs ever written, and we certainly wouldn’t want to slight our writers.

    Secondly, regarding overdubs, there are a minimal amount of overdubs on this recording! We made a conscious decision to keep it that way for the exacts reasons discussed herein. There were a couple of lines that had been, umm…re-written (cough, cough) when we sung them live that had to be fixed, and there were a couple others that just needed a better pass. I can unequivocally state that the majority of the songs on “Front Row Live” contain absolutely no overdubs. I’d be surprised if any of us has ever heard a live recording that didn’t have at least one or two overdubs, by the way, even those from back in the analog days. Jeff Collins and Van Atkins at Crossroads/Horizon did a great job for us mixing and EQ’ing this recording as always!

    As for the audience applause, apparently there were no mics set up at NQC to pick up the ambient sounds from the audience, so something had to be done. What we were able to hear was amplified as much as possible and enhanced with canned applause. I wish we could have sufficiently captured the live reaction, but thank goodness for modern technology. It sure would be a boring live recording without applause.

    In regards to “Oh What A Savior”, since that is a litmus test for any good tenor singer, Chris was asked to sing it when he auditioned, and when he did we were absolutely blown away. Even coming from an Alabama boy who is partial to Rosie’s original rendition, I think that Chris’s is the best I’ve ever heard. Our fans agree and request it almost every night. It was included on this CD, along with the others, for the simple fact that it represents one of our most requested songs from our current repertoire. I totally understand the discussion on whether or not to include it, however, but I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, but instead just a matter of individual preference. Whether it’s “OWAS”, “Hide Thou Me”, “Walk With Me”, that criticism could be made for any tenor classic. Hopefully we will have some brand new material to introduce soon featuring Chris as well as the rest of us!

    Thanks again and I hope to see you all somewhere on the gospel road soon. Come see us! God bless.

    1. Bob,
      Thanks for pointing out that the songwriter credits were included under the disc on the tray card. I was working from a PDF copy of the artwork, and although I looked at it several times, I failed to scroll down and see the second “page” of that file.

      Totally my fault for missing that! I will update the review.

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