Final 2014 Wrap Up

douganderson2014drivemaxOn this final day of 2014, I want to quickly wrap up the year that was in Southern Gospel music.  Since we just ended our countdown, I always get asked every year what album just missed making the top 20 and also what album was your lowest ranked of all the albums listened to.  I will reveal both now.

blackwoodbros2014foreverFirst, the rest of the best; the albums that just missed making the top 20:

  1. (21) Drive – Doug Anderson
  2. (22) Welcome Home – Joseph Habedank
  3. (23) Forever: 80th Anniversary Recording – Blackwood Brothers
  4. (24) Hymns: The A Cappella Sessions – Nelons
  5. (25) This Is What It’s All About – Mark Bishop

InspirationsAnd the album that ranked lowest of all the albums I listened to in 2014 was:

  1. God’s Word Will Stand – Inspirations; with the exception of two songs (“Faithful Friend” and “It’s Not Long Until Forever”) this may be the weakest Inspirations album in their entire 50 year discography.  If I would have reviewed this album it would have gotten a ‘D’ on my grading scale.

IN HONOR:

I want to honor all those Southern Gospel has lost in 2014:

  1. Roy Bray (Southmen Quartet)
  2. norman-wilson-passes-awayRichard Carper (Southern Gospel music promoter)
  3. Bobby Clark (Cathedrals)
  4. Colbert Croft (Songwriter)
  5. Norman Holland (Southern Gospel music executive)
  6. Bob Johnson (Speers)
  7. Charles Johnson (Charles Johnson & Revivers)
  8. Don Light (Talent Agent)
  9. Mary Tom Speer Reid (Speers)
  10. Jack Smith (Happy Goodmans)
  11. Ed Sprouse (Blue Ridge Quartet)
  12. Clark Thompson (Rangers Trio)
  13. Eddie Wallace (Sunshine Boys)
  14. Norman Wilson (Primitive Quartet)

TOP PLAYED SONGS:

Each month I present readers the Fab Five feature that ranks the most played Southern Gospel radio songs in my iPod/music playlists over the preceding month.  Here are the ten most played songs for the entire year 2014.

  1. Erwins“How Will You Plead” – 11th Hour
  2. “Falling” – Amber Nelon Thompson
  3. “Empty Me Lord” – Primitive Quartet
  4. “Meanwhile Back At The Cross” – Gordon Mote
  5. “Not Afraid To Trust Him” – Whisnants
  6. “I’ll Take You Home” – Hoppers
  7. When Justice Called, Mercy Answered” – Erwins
  8. “I’ll Know I’m Home” – Kingdom Heirs
  9. “The Blood And Its Power” – Perrys
  10. “The Sun’s Coming Up” – Nelons

MOST VIEWED POSTS:

  1. In Honor: Norman Wilson
  2. The Southern Gospel Story Of My Life (1982)
  3. 2014 NQC – Saturday Night Recap
  4. Sometimes It Takes A Mountain – Gaither Vocal Band
  5. 2014 NQC – Thursday Night Recap

LOOKING AHEAD:

Looking ahead to 2015, I plan to get back to some of the most popular features of the site (Smack Down; Southern Gospel Story Of My Life; Ten On Ten – Revisited).  I will continue to provide readers with album reviews, NQC recaps and my annual countdown.  I also plan to start a new ‘hard hitting’ commentary that will address issues within Southern Gospel music industry.  Look forward to having you along for the ride.

Best Of 2014 – #1

AmberCan you believe it.  We have made it to the end of the annual countdown of the best Southern Gospel albums and recorded songs of the year.  Thanks for taking this ride with me during the month of December.  It is one of my favorite things to do all year on the blog.

Now to crown the best Southern Gospel album of 2014.  Amber Nelon Thompson proved that you do not need a traditional ten song recording to produce a great listening experience.  Instead she found four absolutely stellar songs and put together the EP; Without Your Love.

Along with the songwriting talents of Gina Boe, Jason Clark, Ian Eskolin, Ronnie Freeman, Joel Lindsey, Don Poythress, Tony Wood and Daywind Records, I wonder if they may start a new trend in Southern Gospel music where you only release the best songs possible instead of the old formula (of having to come up with at least ten songs).

Whether it becomes a trend or not, Amber Nelon Thompson proves that it works because Without Your Love is the best Southern Gospel album released in 2014.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “Falling”; “What Do You Say”; “Without Your Love” and “Grateful”.

Amber 2I guess it is fitting that the best album of the year will also produce the best recorded song of 2014.  That is exactly what happened with “Falling”.

Gina Boe, Ronnie Freeman and Tony Wood penned a masterpiece with this song.  I was blown away the first time I heard this song and Amber’s performance.  It was the type of song that I never tired hearing every time it popped up in my playlist.

The exquisite arrangement, along with Amber’s interpretation makes it one of the best recorded songs in the history of this genre (it is that good).  I can see this song elicit the same response when I listen to it ten years from now.  The best recorded song in Southern Gospel music in 2014 is “Falling”.

Here is a YouTube clip (published by Various Artists – Topic) of the audio version of the best recorded song of 2014; “Falling”.  Enjoy!

Best Of 2014 – #2

DunawaysIf you are feeling sluggish this Monday (if you are back at work that is), you are probably not going to get much done anyway so why not take some time and check all your favorite Southern Gospel websites.  If you stumbled upon this one, we are near the end of the annual countdown of the best Southern Gospel albums and recorded songs of the year.

Runner up (#2) among the best Southern Gospel albums released this year is the Dunaways; Church In The Kitchen.  I have been a listener of this group’s music since their first album, Born Again Experience (2002).  The Dunaways are also not the type of group to spoil you with a new album every year.  They make you wait until they can provide you with the absolute best album they can put together.

It has been three years between the release of It’s A God Thing (2011) and Church In The Kitchen (2014) and boy was the wait worth it.  This album contains zero filler; instead is filled with 13 songs that could all be top ten hits.  The Dunaways have a traditional country sound mixed with their Southern Gospel.  They remind me a lot of the Rambos style mixed in with a little Whites.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “Reassure Me”; “Somewhere Around The Throne”; “When My Tears Wash The Scars”; “Again And Again”; “Never Gonna Give Up On You”; “Mercy Built A Bridge”; “Better Than My Best Day”; “His Word Is Written In Stone”; “Let Go Of This World”; “Church In The Kitchen”; “Your Prayers Were Pulling Me Through” and “Muddy Mississippi”.

11th hourWhen the year 2014 closes, the two songs that land at the top of the best recorded song list happen to be the two most played songs in my iPod/musical playlists this year.

11th Hour already scored one of the top five Southern Gospel albums with Picture This.  One song in particular took this album to a whole other level of greatness, the song that ranks at #2 among the best recorded this year.

Group member Amber Eppinette along with songwriting legend, Dianne Wilkinson penned one of the best songs of 2014.  This song also received tons of airplay at Southern Gospel radio becoming a top five song on the radio singles chart.  It also became a nominee for best recorded song of the year at the 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.

Here is a YouTube clip (published by The 11th Hour – Topic) of the audio version of the song ranked 2nd among the best of the year; “How Will You Plead”.  Enjoy!

Best Of 2014 – #3

tarandaThe annual countdown is nearing its end.  Today we take a look at the Southern Gospel album and recorded song ranked 3rd among the best released this year.

Female vocalists truly dominated the album category this year.  Five of the top seven recordings all included power house female vocalists.  One of those power house female voices, Taranda Greene, lands at #3 among the best Southern Gospel albums released this year with, Stronger.

Taranda has been working on this recording most of the year and was ready to release it in August.  Stow Town Records came along and decided to take on this recording and distribute it under their label.  Wise move, Stow Town, because three of their recordings landed in the top ten this year.  Go back and read my review of the album (linked above) to get my overall thoughts on this amazing album.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “Awake My Soul”; “Stronger”; “Healer”; “A Little More Jesus”; “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”; “Where Amazing Happens”; “Shackles”; “The Sound” and “Deepest Praise”.

L5Yesterday, the Kingsmen found a home at #4 (Battle Cry) with the highest ranking Southern Gospel quartet album of 2014.  Today, Legacy Five takes the honor of having the highest ranking Southern Gospel quartet recorded song of the year.

Legacy Five’s 2014 album release, Great Day, ended up ranking 15th among the best albums released this year.  That is a direct result of several really strong songs, including the one that ranks 3rd among all Southern Gospel songs recorded this year.

The Don Poythress penned, “He Heals”, fits Legacy Five perfectly.  Tenor Gus Gaches tackles the first verse while Scott Fowler conveys the second.  Truly, one of the greatest songs the group has ever recorded.

Here is a YouTube clip (published by Legacy Five – Topic) of the audio version of the song ranked 3rd among the best of 2014.  Enjoy!

Best Of 2014 – #4

KingsmenI trust everyone had a wonderful Christmas day.  Today, as most gorge on leftovers or head back to the mall to exchange gifts, I thought I would spend the last few days of 2014 to finish the annual countdown of the best albums and recorded songs in Southern Gospel music.

Today, we take a look at the album and recorded song ranked 4th among the best of 2014.  As has already been mentioned twice in this countdown (based on the two songs they landed in the top twenty), the Kingsmen have had a great 2014.  The year was capped with the release of the album ranked 4th among the best of the year; Battle Cry.

I already heralded this album the best the Kingsmen have released in over a decade.  While I enjoyed the more progressive moves the group made on their last several recordings (see Grace Says, Missing People, When God Ran), Battle Cry reminded the Southern Gospel listener what made the Kingsmen popular in the first place.  This album reminded me of something the Kingsmen would have released in the late ’80’s/early ’90’s.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “Oh Yes I Am”; “I’ve Never Seen The Righteous Forsaken”; “I Know”; “Cross Of Grace”; “Beautiful City”; “Battle Cry”; “Come And Dine” and “Faith”.

Hoskins FamilyDo you know how pleased this listener was when I heard the Hoskins Family were releasing a new album in 2014.  In January, Daywind Records released a greatest hits collection with A Gathering: The Hits Of Then And Now.

While it was a greatest hits collection, it included three new songs, one of which lands at #4 among the best recorded songs of the year.  “Whenever I Hear His Name” was the first single from the album and ended up becoming an instant top ten hit on the radio singles chart.

It was classic Hoskins Family with power vocalist Angie Aldridge taking the lead.  Nominated for radio single of the year in the 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors, this Joseph Habedank/Marty Funderburk collaboration will remain in my music playlists well in to the new year.

Here is a YouTube clip (Various Artists – Topic) of the audio version of the song ranked 4th among the best of 2014.  Enjoy!

Best Of 2014 – #5

11th HourBefore we break for Christmas, lets take a look at the Southern Gospel album and recorded song ranked 5th among the best of 2014.

We are now to the top five of the year.  This represents the best of the best Southern Gospel music had to offer in 2014.  Southern Gospel trio, 11th Hour, continues to make strides and I would rank 2014 as the group’s best year yet in terms of album releases and a career making song.

Picture This was the third album for 11th Hour, but easily the group’s best album release to date.  The trio captures that Southern Gospel sound prevalent in the mid 1990’s with groups like the Martins, New Journey and Talley Trio.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “How Will You Plead”; “Jesus Is In The House”; “Saints Are Born”; “This Changes Everything”; “Everlasting Arms”; “Picture This” and “Waving On The Other Side”.

KingsmenEarlier in the countdown, I mentioned that the Kingsmen can look back on 2014 as a great year.  They released one of their best albums of the last decade with Battle Cry, which was filled with several stand out songs that could have found a home in the top 20 recorded songs of 2014.

One song (“I’ve Never Seen The Righteous Forsaken”), was ranked 15th among the best of the year.  Now, coming in at #5 among the best Southern Gospel recorded songs of 2014 is the group’s hit single from this year; “Oh Yes I Am”.

This is one of the best Southern Gospel up-tempo songs to come out in several years.  It is classic Kingsmen from the first note with the high tenor notes of Chris Jenkins taking the lead on the song.  One of the most played songs in my iPod for the year.

Here is a YouTube clip (published by The Kingsmen – Topic) of the audio version of the song ranked 5th among the best of 2014; “Oh Yes I Am”.  Enjoy!

Best Of 2014 – #6

Masters VoiceHappy Christmas Monday!  The kids are counting down the days (3).  I am using this Christmas Monday to continue the annual countdown of the best Southern Gospel albums and recorded songs.

One of the biggest surprises of 2014 is the album ranked 6th among the best of 2014; Master’s Voice, Rescued From Religion.  In the review of this album, I mentioned how I loved the title of this recording.  ‘Religion’ has muddied true Christianity for way too long, but I digress (tis the season of cheer!).

Master’s Voice proved with this recording that Southern Gospel listeners need to start paying attention because they are more than just a regional artist from Oklahoma.  Ricky Capps, Justin Morphis and Joey Johnson should be extremely proud of what they gave Southern Gospel listeners, an album that ranks 6th among all the albums released this year.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “The Saving Kind”; “Holy All Over Again”; “Ship Was Made To Sail”; “He Loved Me Anyway”; “It’s Still Through The Blood”; “Safe In The Grip Of His Grace”; “Nothing Greater Than Grace” and “Ordinary Sunday”.

BFAWhat can be said of Brian Free and Assurance that hasn’t already been mentioned.  They have had another great year in 2014, with a large part of that success due to the song ranked 6th among the best recorded songs in Southern Gospel music this year.

“Say Amen” garnered three wins for the group at the 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors, including best recorded song, best concept video and best songwriting collab.  Jason Cox, Michael Farren and Kenna West may have penned one of the biggest songwriting collaborations of the last decade in Gospel music.

Here is a YouTube clip (published by BFAVideoBlog) of the award-winning concept video of “Say Amen”.  Enjoy!

Best Of 2014 – #7

PerrysThe Christmas holiday is here as most of us begin our travels to family somewhere across this country or prepare our homes to host family.  Remember to cherish those most important to you this Christmas season.  Today, we continue the annual countdown with the album and recorded song ranked 7th.

Even in the most trying of years for the Perrys, they still provided Southern Gospel listeners with a new album; the group’s first with Stow Town Records.  While the album didn’t rank as high as some of their biggest recordings (see Almost Morning), Into His Presence still provided listeners with the Perrys traditional/progressive mix of quality Southern Gospel music.

Even though the Perrys have since lost two vocal members from this recording, several songs contained on the album will remain in the Perrys repertoire for years to come.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “I Can Trust Him”; “Lord, I’m Thankful”; “How Long”; “Into His Presence”; “I Owe Him Everything”; “Privilege Of Prayer” and “Just Stand Still”.

High RoadFemale trio, High Road III had another great year with the release of their sophomore album; Angel At The Crossroads.  The album ranked 13th among the best released this year.

The title track (“Angel At The Crossroads”) also happened to be the stand out track from the recording and now lands among the best recorded songs of 2014 at #7.  High Road III’s acoustical style lends to these haunting melodies that capture the listener and “Angel At The Crossroads” fits this mold perfectly.

High Road III picked up quite a few nominations at the 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors as Angel At The Crossroads garnered nominations for Album and Concept Video of the year.

Here is a YouTube clip (published by HighRoadMusic) of that concept video for the recorded song ranked 7th among the best of 2014.  Enjoy!