Best of 2010 – The Best of the Rest

There is not much more to say about 2010.  The top news stories, top albums and top songs have all been covered.  I want to take this moment to thank everyone for stopping by in 2010 and listening to what I have to say about this music we all enjoy.  The early success of this blog is only due to you, the reader, and again thanks!!  I had someone ask if I would be willing to share where the other albums (on the list of 40 I received this year) ranked outside the top 10.  Why not.  Here are the albums that ranked 11 to 20 on my 2010 list.

So with that I will wish everyone a Happy New Year as this is my last post of 2010.  Be looking for some new features in 2011 and a return to the blog’s most popular feature of 2010, the song covers Smack Down.

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Best of 2010 – #1

The time has come to crown the #1 album of 2010.  The top honor for 2010 goes to Shine by the Bowling Family.  Released back in late January 2010, this album has everything I enjoy about Southern Gospel music.  It has straight ahead Southern Gospel barn burners and power ballads.  It contains classic country melodies that compliment the groups vocals.  I enjoy hearing the steel guitar in Southern Gospel music.  I remember when most bands in the industry used to have a steel guitar player.  Combine Mike’s vocal talents with two of the best female voices in the business and you have a recipe for success.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “I Still Glory In The Cross”, “This Is Your Moment”, “He Leads Me Each Step Of The Way”, “Pray Anyway”, “Sailing On Home”, “Tell Them That I Love Them”, “When We Need It Most”, “How Blessed” and “Half That’s Never Been Told”.

Their bus accident in July 2010 kept the group sidelined from touring for the remainder of the year.  The group will be making limited appearances in 2011.  A big part of their appearances will be featuring music from this recording.

The #1 album of 2010:  Shine.

If a group is going to claim the top album of the year, it is a result of the songs featured on that recording.  Shine by the Bowling Family is filled with some stellar songs (there are at least 8 songs on this album that could be a #1 song).  The Bowlings are no strangers to #1 hits.  Their last recording, Faith To Believe, contained four #1 songs, a feat never accomplished before in Southern Gospel music.

The song I chose as the #1 recorded song of the year is found on the #1 album of the year, Shine.  “I Still Glory In The Cross”, written by Marty Funderburk and Belinda Smith is a masterpiece.  It is a Southern Gospel power ballad in the truest sense, without being over produced or over orchestrated.

It’s beautiful lyric and vocal presentation is what made this song the top recorded song of 2010.  A brief clip is provided.

Thanks for allowing me to divulge what I felt to be the best in Southern Gospel music for 2010.  Tomorrow I will wrap up the year with a final note and look ahead to 2011.

Best of 2010 – #2

Nearly made it to the #1 spot for top album of 2010, but first let’s take a look at the album landing at #2.  Never Walk Alone by Brian Free & Assurance has received rave reviews for its song selection and production quality.  I had a chance to review this recording several months ago and I too made claim that this was a landmark recording for the group.

I stand by that statement and select Never Walk Alone as #2 among the best Southern Gospel recordings of the year.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “Never Walk Alone”, “Anything Is Possible”, “I Believe”, “Stand Among The Millions”, “The Part Where You Come In”, “Remind Me Of The Cross” and “Turn The Page”.

If there is one Southern Gospel quartet album that should be part of your collection in 2010, this is it.

Jeff & Sheri Easter landed at #3 among the top albums of the year for Expecting Good Things.  A particular song from that recording finds its place as the #2 recorded song of 2010.  “Born To Climb” was the first single from this recording and landed at #1 on the Singing News chart during the spring of 2010.

Written by Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey this song was one of Jeff & Sheri Easter’s finest.  This song was an instant favorite and remained one of the most listened to songs of 2010.  A clip has been provided.

Tomorrow will close out the countdown as the #1 album and recorded song of 2010 will be announced.

Best of 2010 – #3

       

                       I trust everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  This week we’ll ring in 2011 but before that happens let’s take one final look at 2010.  I am down to the top three albums of the year.  The album finding a place at #3 for the year is Jeff & Sheri Easter’s, Expecting Good Things.

There are valid arguments that this is not even a 2010 release.  It is true that the group had this recording available in late fall of 2009, but Springhill Records officially released it to retail outlets in January of 2010.  Therefore I am counting it as a 2010 release.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “Born To Climb”, “Love Remains”, “I Need You More Today”, “Hear My Heart”, “In The Name Of Jesus”, “I Don’t Wanna Cry”, “Workin’ On A Road” and “Expecting Good Things”.

No matter the year you consider this album released, it is one of Jeff & Sheri Easter’s finest and one of the best Southern Gospel album releases of the entire year.

Landing at #3 among the top recorded songs of 2010 is a cover song.  The Hoppers have become masters at cover songs.  There are usually several on each new recording.  I chose the Hoppers 2010 album, Something’s Happening, as #9 among the best albums of the year.

The title track, penned by Kyla Rowland, finds a place at #3 among the best recorded songs of the year.  Mercy’s Mark Quartet released this song nearly five years ago on an album titled the same.  As great as their version of this song was, the Hoppers took it to another level.

Adding the recitation in between verses was a nice feature, when combined with the vocals turned the song into a powerhouse.  It is the type of song that has to be heard live to be truly appreciated.  A clip has been provided.

Best of 2010 – #4

Triumphant Quartet finds a place at the #4 spot among 2010’s best albums.  Released by Mansion Entertainment to retail outlets in November, Love Came Calling is another high-caliber quartet recording from Triumphant.  The recording was produced by Wayne Haun and Jeff Stice and follows the same musical formula that brought Triumphant Quartet to the forefront of Southern Gospel music.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “Love Came Calling”, “You’ll Find Me There”, “I Can Take You To The Place”, “We Shall Overcome”, “Holy Hands”, “Saved By Grace” and “The Undertaker”.

As listed yesterday, the title track, “Love Came Calling” is one of the best recorded songs all year.  It was also great to hear another McGruder cover, “Saved By Grace” and two Nelons covers, “We Shall Overcome” and “Jesus Is Your Ticket To Heaven”.  Solid four-part quartet harmony continues to confirm why Triumphant Quartet is currently the reigning quartet of the year.

                  I am going to start by saying this is the best vocal performance of Brian Free’s entire career.  I chose “Never Walk Alone” as #4 among the best recorded songs of 2010.  This entire album is truly a vocal masterpiece and there were several other songs on the recording worthy of making the year’s ten best list.

Aside from some harmony singing by Bill Shivers, this is more of a Brian Free solo number.  The production, accompaniment and vocal interpretation of this song is truly one of the best song’s of this group’s entire career.

The only downside for the group is having to top it on their next recording.  I have provided the first verse and chorus for a listen.

This will also be my last post until after the Christmas holiday.  So I wanted to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas!!  Treasure your time with family and friends and make it a holiday to remember.  Next week I will close out the countdown and wrap up 2010.

Best of 2010 – #5

It is time to countdown the top five albums of 2010.  We find our first quartet recording in the countdown at #5.  The Dove Brothers are one of those artists that get at least one new recording out every year.  The group’s sound has transformed over their last few recordings and was solidified with their 2010 effort, Unshakeable.

The country overtones, reminiscent of what the Oak Ridge Boys and Thrasher Brothers were doing in the 1970’s, has set the Dove Brothers apart from their quartet counterparts.  They have created a sound that can be identified as truly ‘Dove Brother’.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “I Recall”, “If I Knew Then”, “How About You”, “My Soul As Been Set Free”, “King Jesus”, “Unstoppable” and “Hey Lazarus”.

Landing at #5 among the top recorded songs of 2010 is “Love Came Calling” by Triumphant Quartet.  Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey have collaborated on many great songs.  The simple arrangement makes this a stand out tune on the group’s recording.  Scott Inman turns in a fine vocal performance.

This song was chosen as the first single from the recording, also titled Love Came Calling.  The song should find a place in the top 10 on radio at some point in 2011.  The final verse is provided.

Best of 2010 – #6

Kicking off another week and back to the best of 2010 countdown.  Coming in at #6 for best album of 2010 is the Nelons, Beside Still Waters.  This album was released back in February.  Current vocalists in the group consist of Jason Clark, Kelly Nelon Clark and Amber Thompson.  This album was a return to that classic Nelons sound.

Personal favorites on the recording include:  “The Love Of God For Me”, “I’m Going Home With Jesus”, “Jesus, What A Wonderful Name”, “Weep”, “Beside Still Waters”, “Consider Me” and “Settled At The Cross”.

The group turned in a great cover of one of my all time favorite McGruder songs, “I’m Going Home With Jesus”.  Great production, song selection and powerhouse vocals  make Beside Still Waters one of the year’s best at #6.

                   It just so happens the Nelons dominate the #6 spot.  The song I chose as sixth among the best recorded songs of 2010 is “The Love Of God For Me” by the Nelons.  This song was penned by group member Jason Clark as a praise song for their church.

It is one of the best ‘kick-off’ songs to any recording this year.  Amber Thompson is featured and turns in one of her best vocal performances.  The melody reminds me of the song “Don’t Let Me Miss The Glory”.  It is also the group’s current radio single.  It could become a hit for the group in 2011.

A brief clip is provided for #6 among the best recorded songs of 2010; “The Love Of God For Me”.

Best of 2010 – #7

The best of 2010 continues with the album that lands at #7.  Greatly Blessed was one of two albums released by the vocal band in 2010.  Back in January the group put out the audio/video recording, Better Day.  What more can be said of the Gaither Vocal Band that hasn’t already been said.  The group consistently churn out top-notch music year after year no matter the vocal line up.

Add power house talent like Michael English, David Phelps and Mark Lowry back into the mix and it is tough to beat.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored”, “Please Forgive Me”, “That Sounds Like Home To Me”, “You Are My All In All”, “Better Day” and “Clean”.

From a group with the talent of the Gaither Vocal Band you expect great music and they created one of the year’s ten best with Greatly Blessed.

The song that finds a home at #7 among the top recorded songs of 2010 is “Mercy Leads” by Sisters.  This group excels at harmony.  If there is one main element that separates Southern Gospel music from other genres it is harmony singing.  The Ruppe sisters; Kim, Heather and Valerie make up the trio Sisters.

Southern Gospel sometimes gets lost in all the over produced, over orchestrated, over sung songs.  It is nice to hear simple orchestration on the melody to really allow the vocal to be the focal point of the song.  Of all the songs recorded in 2010, “Mercy Leads” by Sisters is one of the best vocals you’ll hear on any song all year.  A short clip is provided.