Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  Kirk Talley and brother Roger Talley sang with their sister Diane in the early 1970’s.  The trio recorded two albums before Roger would go on to join the Hopper Brothers and Connie as pianist, in 1974.

Kirk would eventually join the Hopper Brothers and Connie by the late 1970’s before making his was to the Cathedral Quartet as tenor.

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Still Standing: Martins

GRADE:  A-

  • Album:  Still Standing
  • Artist:  Martins
  • Label:  Gaither Gospel Series
  • Style:  Progressive, Modern Country
  • Release Date:  07/13/18
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  40 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

Today, we take a look at the new album from the Martins; Still Standing.

The Martins began their recording career in the late 1980’s.  With 30 years in the rear view mirror, 2018 brings the release of Still Standing.  The album was produced by Gordon Mote as part of the Gaither Gospel Series.

Siblings, Joyce Sanders (alto/lead), Jonathan Martin (lead/tenor) and Judy Hess (soprano) continue their progressive Southern Gospel style with Still Standing, while layering in modern country vibes.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Joyce Sanders contributed to four of the eleven songs on Still Standing.  The immediate stand out track is the mid-tempo, “Beautiful”.  This is what listeners have come to expect from the Martins.  A must listen.
  • Joyce commands this album from a vocal stand point as well.  The modern country vibes of “Days Like This (God’s Still God)” give listeners a powerful lyric.
  • She also gets the album started on a strong note with the progressive up-tempo number, “Running”.  This would make for a good concert opener.
  • Modern country is also the sound given on the Judy Hess feature, which is also the title track; “Still Standing”.  I believe this is also the first radio single from album.
  • The trio show off their tight harmonies on “Smell Of Smoke”.  This would make a great Southern Gospel radio single choice.
  • I absolutely love the lyric of “Stained Glass”.  Taking the perspective of what people normally think of stained glass and painting the picture that we’re all dirty (stained) and fragile (glass).
  • Still Standing is full of meaningful lyrics.  Listeners need to also listen to “Heal The Wound”.  The line, “heal the wound but leave the scar” is outstanding.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Beautiful”, “Still Standing”, “Running”, “Stained Glass”, “Day’s Like This (God’s Still God)”, “Good”, “Smell Of Smoke”, “Lotta Life” and “Heal The Wound”.
CRITIQUE:
  • Why were there four years between albums?  The Martins are truly letting listeners realize what they’re missing by not having new music from the group on a regular basis.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Mercy Come In”.

WRAP UP:

Still Standing is the first album to receive an (A-) rating in my reviews in two years.  I don’t mind stating the Martins have always been one of the best groups to ever grace a Southern Gospel stage.  I also don’t mind stating that Still Standing is the best Southern Gospel album I’ve heard in 2018, thus far.

SONG (tempo)/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Running” (Fast)/Joyce – Natalie Cromwell, Val Dacus, Dean Newkork  2. “Beautiful” (Mid)/Joyce; Judy – Don Poythress, Joyce Sanders, Kenna West  3. “Good” (Mid)/Jonathan – David Barnes  4. “Mercy Come In” (Slow)/Judy – Travis Cottrell, David Moffitt, Laura Story  5. “Days Like This (God’s Still God)” (Mid/Fast)/Joyce – Don Poythress, Kenna West  6. “Smell Of Smoke” (Mid)/Ensemble – Jason Cox, Amber Eppinette, Kenna West  7. “Heal The Wound” (Slow)/Joyce – Clinton Lagerberg, Nichole Nordeman  8. “Still Standing” (Mid)/Judy – Don Poythress, Joyce Sanders, Kenna West  9. “Stained Glass” (Mid)/Jonathan – Michael Curtis, Bob Gulley  10. “Lotta Life” (Mid/Fast)/Joyce – Joyce Sanders, Paul Sanders, Jeff Silvey  11. “Wherever You Are” (Slow)/Judy – Joel Lindsey, Harrie McCollough, Joyce Sanders

Best Radio Songs Of The 1980’s: #25

The countdown continues with the song ranked 25th among the best Southern Gospel radio singles of the 1980’s.

The Lesters already had one song in the top 40 with “Ain’t God Good” (#39), but their biggest chart song of the decade came in 1987.  “The Return Of El Shaddai” was from the group’s 1986 recording, Legacy.

It spent several months in the top 10 during the summer of 1987 and went on to become one of the top 20 songs of the entire year.  The song was penned by Bruce Haynes, who himself went on to perform with Jubilation (White River) and later recorded several albums as a solo artist.

Reach: Jordan Family Band

GRADE:  B

  • Album:  Reach
  • Artist:  Jordan Family Band
  • Label:  Skyland
  • Style:  Country, Progressive
  • Release Date:  07/13/18
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  37 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

Today, we take a look at the upcoming album from the Jordan Family Band; Reach.  The album hits retail Friday July 13th.

Reach is the third album from the Jordan Family Band, following up Better Days (2015) and Joshua 24:15 (2017).  The Jordan Family Band’s style is country with some progressive Southern Gospel overtones.

The Jordan Family Band is composed of Joshua Jordan (baritone vocals/bass guitar), Randa Jordan (soprano vocals/pianist), Alex Jordan (tenor/lead vocals/mandolin), Hutch Jordan (harmony vocals/lead guitar), Grant Jordan (harmony vocals) and Keenan Atkinson (acoustic guitar).

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Young Alex Jordan (age 13) and his tenor and harmony vocals continues to impress with each new album.  His harmony vocals alongside his mother Randa’s vocals is outstanding.
  • Alex and Randa share verses on the album’s standout track, “Grace Is Still Amazing Me”.  This song needs to be sent to Southern Gospel radio.  This could easily be the group’s first top 10 song!
  • The group’s sound is built around Randa’s vocals and the harmony with Alex.  She gives one of her best performances on “God Is There”.  I would also consider this the most progressive song on the album.
  • She does the same thing with her performance of “Call On Jesus”.  Another must listen.
  • The group can sing traditional country with the best of them.  None more evident than “Shouting In The Middle Of My Storm”.  Joshua and Randa share verses.
  • Don’t want to leave the review without mentioning the album’s opening track, “You”.  This progressive Southern Gospel style song features Alex.  This could also find a home at Southern Gospel radio.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Grace Is Still Amazing Me”, “God Is There”, “Shouting In The Middle Of My Storm”, “Call On Jesus”, “You” and “No Lack Of Love”.
CRITIQUE:
  • I was surprised the record label decided on “You Better Get Right (Or Ya Gonna Get Left)” as the first single.  There are at least six songs on the album that rank above this one.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Moving On”.

WRAP UP:

The Jordan Family Band continues to build upon each previous release.  I would consider Reach the best album the group has given listeners thus far.

SONG (tempo)/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “You” (Mid)/Alex – Joshua Jordan, Randa Jordan, Rebecca Peck  2. “Shouting In The Middle Of My Storm” (Mid)/Randa; Joshua – Joshua Jordan  3. “God Is There” (Slow)/Randa – Bernhard Herms, Jimmy Olander, Marty Roe  4. “You Better Get Right (Or Ya Gonna Get Left)” (Fast)/Ensemble; Alex; Randa – Ricky Atkinson, Joshua Jordan  5. “Heaven Is Just A Memory Away” (Slow)/Joshua – Joshua Jordan  6. “No Lack Of Love” (Mid/Fast)/Hutch – Gerald Reeder  7. “Call On Jesus” (Slow)/Randa – Cindy Johnson  8. “Grace Is Still Amazing Me” (Slow)/Alex; Randa – Joshua Jordan  9. “Moving On” (Fast)/Joshua – Joshua Jordan  10. “Old Glory Waves” (Slow)/Randa; Ensemble – Rebecca Peck

Best Radio Songs Of The 1980’s: #26

We are climbing toward the halfway mark in the countdown of Southern Gospel’s best radio songs of the 1980’s.

Coming in at #26 is the biggest chart success for the Dixie Melody Boys.  Too this day, “Antioch Church Choir (Uncle Jesse)”, remains the most popular song ever recorded by the group.

It is also the only song to reach #1 (in 1982) on the Southern Gospel radio singles chart for the Dixie Melody Boys.  This is also songwriter Darrell Holt’s only major chart song in Southern Gospel music.

Song Hall Of Fame: “Plan Of Salvation”

Hall of Fame (350x202)It is time for me to honor another of Southern Gospel’s greatest compositions by placing it into the Southern Gospel song hall of fame.

Today’s inductee dates back to 1966, the earliest known recording of the song by Gary McSpadden.  The only other artist to record “Plan Of Salvation” during this era was the Galileans on their 1970 album, Today.

The song hit the Southern Gospel mainstream when the Cathedrals recorded it on their 1986 album, Master Builder.  It allowed George Younce to showcase his bass voice and the song has since been used by quartets for that very reason.

Ruby Moody penned “Plan Of Salvation”; this now Southern Gospel quartet classic.

Praise His High And Holy Name: Sons Family

GRADE:  C+

  • Album:  Praise His High And Holy Name
  • Artist:  Sons Family
  • Label:  Chapel Valley
  • Style:  Progressive, Appalachian
  • Release Date:  03/30/18
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  38 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

Today, we take a look at the latest album from the Sons Family; Praise His High And Holy Name.

Matriarch, Gayle Sons has led the Sons Family since the early 1980’s.  The group found success in the early 2000’s with hits such as “I Came To Get My Blessing”, “I Went On My Knees A Sinner” and “When I Get There”.

The Sons Family present progressive Southern Gospel music with some Appalachian flair thrown in.  Along with Gayle (alto), the group is composed of son Greg Sons (lead), daughter in law Kim Sons (harmony) and granddaughter Hannah Sons (soprano).

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Gayle Sons and her Appalachian style is the core to the Sons Family’s sound.  The stand out song happens to be the album’s current radio single, “Lean Over A Cloud And Wave”.
  • She also takes the lead on the album’s title track, “Praise His High And Holy Name”.  This song may just end up on your musical playlists.
  • Hannah Sons takes the lead on the progressive, “Story Teller”.  This is a song you could easily hear the Bowling Family doing.
  • The album starts on a strong note with the mid-tempo country flavored, “Dying To Live”.  Hannah and Gayle share verses on this must listen.
  • The strongest up tempo number is “Not About You”.  The song was originally recorded by the Sons Family nearly 15 years ago.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Lean Over A Cloud And Wave”, “Story Teller”, “Not About You”, “Praise His High And Holy Name”, “Satan Don’t Remind Me”, “Forgiven” and “Dying To Live”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The Sons Family attempt to cover the McGruders concert closer, “I’m Just Warmin’ Up”.  No where near the excitement found in that classic version.
  • The group also covered the recent #1 song from the Bowling Family, “Mourning Into Dancing”.  It’s hard to match the caliber of the original.
  • Can we put a moratorium on the recording of “Chain Breaker”?  Please and thank you.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Mourning Into Dancing” and “I’m Just Warmin’ Up”.

WRAP UP:

I was glad to see Gayle Sons decided to put the group together again and record new music.  There are several songs that deserve a listen.

SONG (tempo)/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Dying To Live” (Slow)/Hannah; Gayle – Gina Vera  2. “I’m Just Warmin’ Up” (Fast)/Greg – Tom Trimble  3. “Mourning Into Dancing” (Mid)/Kim – Sue C Smith; Gina Vera  4. “Story Teller” (Mid)/Hannah – Gayle Sons  5. “Loser” (Mid)/Greg – Gayle Sons  6. “Praise His High And Holy Name” (Slow)/Gayle – Elizabeth Scott  7. “Forgiven” (Mid)/Greg – Gayle Sons  8. “Not About You” (Fast)/Hannah – Charlotte Baker, Eric Baker  9. “Chain Breaker” (Mid)/Greg – Mia Fieldes, Jonathan Smith, Zach Williams  10. “Lean Over A Cloud And Wave” (Slow)/Gayle – Gayle Sons  11. “Satan Don’t Remind Me” (Fast)/Hannah – Donetta Conlee

Best Radio Songs Of The 1980’s: #27

Happy summer!  Here’s hoping we all have some time to unwind over the next couple months.  Today, I want to continue counting down the best Southern Gospel radio songs of the 1980’s.

The Florida Boys had their best chart success during the decade of the ’80s.  The song landing at #27 is the Carroll McGruder penned, “I Lean On You Lord”.

It was the song to finally dethrone “Midnight Cry” from the top of the charts, when it landed at #1 in July 1988.