Rock Of Ages: Hymns And Gospel Favorites – Oak Ridge Boys

OaksGRADE:  B-

  • Album – Rock Of Ages: Hymns And Gospel Favorites
  • Artist – Oak Ridge Boys
  • Label – Gaither Gospel
  • Style – Country
  • Release Date – 05/26/15
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music/Spotify)

SYNOPSIS:

Joe Bonsall (tenor), 42 years; Duane Allen (lead), 50 years; William Lee Golden (baritone), 42 years; Richard Sterban (bass), 43 years.  You can see how long these four gentlemen have been performing together and have been members of the Oak Ridge Boys.  Unmatched by any other quartet in Gospel music.

2015 finds the release of Rock Of Ages: Hymns And Gospel Favorites; a fifteen song, all Gospel collection of song covers.  The only reason the album received the rating it did is because the songs included have been heard a hundred times before.

The group uses their country-style, mastered over the last 35 years to create an enjoyable listen.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The top musical moment for me is the group’s duet with Merle Haggard on “Sweet Jesus”.  This song was a co-write of Merle with Kenny Vernon.  This is one of two not so familiar tunes that listeners may not know.  Duane tackles the first verse while Merle takes the second.  A must listen!
  • William Lee Golden is one of those vocalists I could never tire of listening.  The way he conveys a song to the audience has always been one of his biggest strengths as a performer.  Even though “Angel Band” has been recorded more times than one can count, William Lee seems to add that special touch that makes the song that much more enjoyable.
  • William Lee also shines on the Southern Gospel quartet classic, “Time Has Made A Change In Me”.
  • Richard has several features, but none better than on the second verse of “Rock Of Ages”.  His bass voice remains strong and can still take a lead on a song without the listener needing to figure out what he’s singing.
  • Duane turns in a strong performance on the classic, “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand”.  This song was chosen as the first radio single from the album.  Duane gets some help from the Isaacs on the albums closing number; “Peace Within”.  A newer song that needs a listen.
  • I can’t leave Joe out of the mix.  He really out does himself on the seldom heard Charles Wesley song, “Father I Stretch My Hands To Thee”.  I couldn’t even tell you the last time I heard this song recorded.  A great find and choice to record.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Sweet Jesus”, “Father I Stretch My Hands To Thee”, “Angel Band”, “Peace Within”, “Rock Of Ages”, “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand”, “Time Has Made A Change In Me” and “Just A Little Talk With Jesus”.
CRITIQUE:
  • There are several songs on Rock Of Ages that have been so over recorded, the group can’t add anything fresh to the arrangement.  They include “Blessed Assurance”, “In The Garden” and “There Is Power In The Blood”.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Blessed Assurance”, “In The Garden” and “There Is Power In The Blood”.

WRAP UP:

It is great to hear a group that has been performing together for 42 years still recording great music.  I don’t want to let my rating scare you away from giving this album a listen.  Even though the majority of the songs on Rock Of Ages have been recorded more times than they probably should be, the Oak Ridge Boys give each one their musical touch.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “In The Sweet By And By”/Ensemble – Sanford Bennett, Joseph Webster  2. “Rock Of Ages“/Ensemble; Richard – Thomas Hastings, Augustus Toplady  3. “Sweet Jesus”/Duane w/Merle Haggard – Merle Haggard, Kenny Vernon  4. “Angel Band”/William – Jefferson Hascall  5. “There Is Power In The Blood”/Ensemble; Duane – Lewis Jones  6. “In The Garden”/Ensemble; Richard – C Austin Miles  7. “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand”/Duane – Franklin Eiland, Jennie Wilson  8. “I Love To Tell The Story”/Joe – William Fischer, A Katherine Hankey  9. “Life’s Railway To Heaven”/Ensemble – ME Abbey, Charles Tillman  10. “Time Has Made A Change In Me”/William – Harkin Frye  11. “Blessed Assurance”/Ensemble; Richard – Fanny Crosby, Phoebe Knapp  12. “Father, I Stretch My Hands To Thee”/Joe – Charles Wesley  13. “Farther Along”/Duane – JR Baxter Jr, WB Stevens  14. “Just A Little Talk With Jesus”/Ensemble – Cleavant Derricks  15. “Peace Within”/Duane w/the Isaacs – Dickey Lee, Allen Reynolds, Susan Taylor

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