The One In The Water: Inspirations

GRADE:  C+

  • Album:  The One In The Water
  • Artist:  Inspirations
  • Label:  Horizon
  • Style:  Traditional, Appalachian
  • Release Date:  07/14/17
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  29 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the latest album from the Inspirations, The One In The Water.

The transition of Martin Cook exiting and Archie Watkins returning has taken place with this newest album.  The One In The Water is a return to classic Inspiration sounds from the 1970s.

The 2017 vocal line-up of the Inspirations is Archie Watkins (tenor), Matt Dibler (lead), Eddie Deitz (baritone) and Marlin Shubert (bass).

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Long time bass singer, Marlin Shubert is allowed to show off on the stand out track, “I Shall Not Be Moved”.  This traditional Southern Gospel quartet standard is classic Inspirations at its finest.
  • The classic sounds of Archie Watkins is a winner with the title track and first single from the album, “The One In The Water”.
  • Roland is featured on a strong up-tempo song, “When Jesus Turns My Prison Into My Shouting Ground”.  This may go down as the longest song title of the year.
  • Speaking of classics, the Inspirations turn in a nice cover of the Jimmy Jones song, “I Want To Be Like My Lord”.
  • I don’t want to leave the review without mentioning Eddie Deitz performance of “I Know Him”.  A strong cover of this Singing Echoes original.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “I Shall Not Be Moved”, “The One In The Water”, “When Jesus Turns My Prison Into My Shouting Ground”, “I Want To Be Like My Lord”, “I Know Him” and “I Am So Blessed”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The last half of the album is hands down weaker than the first half of the album.
  • The album closes with a song that has the untrue meme that you can no longer say Merry Christmas.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Jesus They’re Offended At Your Name” and “We Are Christians”.

WRAP UP:

Long time Inspirations fans will enjoy this return to classic sounds.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “The One In The Water”/Archie – Kyla Rowland  2. “I Want To Be Like My Lord“/Ensemble – Jimmy Jones  3. “I Know Him“/Eddie  – Gary Epperson  4. “When Jesus Turns My Prison Into My Shouting Ground”/Matt – Leonard Fletcher  5. “I Shall Not Be Moved”/Ensemble; Marlin – Traditional  6. “Teaching Me To Fly”/Archie – Karen Dyess  7. “I Am So Blessed”/Matt – Matthew Browder, Tommy Browder  8. “We Are Christians”/Archie – Tracy Jones  9. “Thank God For Preachers”/Eddie – Larry Whitehead  10. “Jesus They’re Offended At Your Name”/Matt – James M Jones 

The Southern Gospel Notebook: August 1983

Sorry for my absence, but the busyness of life keeps you from your hobbies at times.  So, today I thought I would offer another page from my Southern Gospel notebook.  As a kid, into my teen years, I wrote down my twenty favorite songs every month.

I started this in July 1982 and continued until December 1994.  Today’s post took my notebook entry from August 1983.  These were my twenty favorite songs.  Enjoy!

**Music is on the sidebar as a playlist**

The Southern Gospel Notebook: July 1984

Before I left for vacation, I posted about several notebooks I found while cleaning the garage.  As a kid, into my teen years, I wrote down my twenty favorite songs every month.

I started this in July 1982 and continued until December 1994.  The response was overwhelming to my first post and therefore it will continue.

Today’s post took my notebook entry from July 1984.  These were my twenty favorite songs.  Enjoy!

**Music is on the sidebar as a playlist**

Summer Vacation And A Found Notebook

This post will be the last until Monday July 17th, as this boy heads out on summer vacation.

As I was doing some cleaning this past week I came across a box in the garage with several notebooks I hadn’t seen in years.  When I was a kid, I used to pull out all my favorite record albums and play my favorite songs, acting like Mr DJ.

In July 1982, I started writing down my 20 favorite songs every month.  I kept up with this every month through December 1994.  It brought back memories when I was a youngster and showed me just how much Southern Gospel music impacted my life as a young boy, into my teen years.

So, I thought as I am away on vacation I would share with you what those 20 favorite songs were that I wrote down in July 1982.  The music is found on the sidebar of the website.  Now that I found these notebooks, expect more of these personal features going forward.

Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  Roger Fortner, currently with the McKameys, has had a long career dating back to the early 1970’s with the Inspirations.  Roger also spent time with the Singing Americans, Hoppers and the Greenes at one time in his career.  Roger has only showed his singing prowess over the course of the last decade with the McKameys.

Pray For Me: Inspirations

InspirationsGRADE:  B-

  • Album – Pray For Me
  • Artist – Inspirations
  • Label – Horizon Records
  • Style – Traditional
  • Release Date – 01/08/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music/Spotify)

SYNOPSIS:

Catching up with one album review this week, missed when originally released; the Inspirations, Pray For Me.

The Inspirations are an institution in Southern Gospel music.  Their simple Appalachian quartet style has been the same since the group hit the scene in the early 1960’s.  The group saw their biggest decade in the 1970’s.

Pray For Me offers a lot of elements, including song covers, that hearken the listener back to the group’s prime of the 1970’s.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • In the many personnel changes the group has seen over the last several years, the biggest gains with the current vocal line-up is having Harold Reed on tenor and Joe Brown on bass.  These two scream classic Inspirations.
  • One such song is the up tempo, “Surely I Come Quickly”.  The song features tenor Harold Reed and is classics Inspirations.  But one only need to look at the song credits to see that it is a new song penned by Dianne Wilkinson.
  • While not pictured on the recording, former Inspiration Melton Campbell is called on to take two features.  The first, is hands down the best song on the album; “God’s Already There”.  Another new song, this should be an easy choice for radio single possibilities.
  • Melton also takes the lead on another stand out track, “What All The Shoutin’s About”.  Another classic Inspirations up tempo song that will having you hitting repeat.
  • Another, is “Onward To The Goal”.  Rebecca Peck and Dianne Wilkinson penned the former and the latter.  A must listen.
  • Newest bass vocalist, Joe Brown, gets a chance to shine on the classic; “Pray For Me”.  This was chosen as the first single and selected as the album title.  Not the strongest on the recording, but good to hear this classic Dottie Rambo number.
  • Scott Barnett, Jeff Collins and Martin Cook shared producing duties on Pray For Me.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “God’s Already There”, “Surely I Come Quickly”, “Onward To The Goal”, “What All The Shoutin’s About”, “Pray For Me” and “It’s All Under The Blood”.
CRITIQUE:
  • If you are going to have a former member perform vocally on your recording, why would you not feature them on the cover?
  • Classic song covers tend to weigh down Inspiration recordings.  Such is the case with “Child Of The King” and “Sweet Beulah Land”.  Although, I have to give the group props for turning in a nice a cappella rendition of the song.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Child Of The King” and “Sweet Beulah Land”.

WRAP UP:

The Inspirations are part of the 50 club; artists that have had 50+ year careers in Southern Gospel music.  Their consistent sound shouldn’t be frowned upon; it is who they are.  Why change that now?  Inspiration fans will love adding Pray For Me to their musical playlists.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Daniel Prayed”/Ensemble – George Speer  2. “God’s Already There“/Melton – Joseph Habedank, Leah Sandlin  3. “Pray For Me”/Ensemble; Joe – Jimmie Davis, Dottie Rambo  4. “Child Of The King”/Joe – Cindy Walker  5. “Surely I Come Quickly”/Harold – Dianne Wilkinson  6. “It’s Under The Blood”/Matt – Leonard Fletcher  7. “Onward To The Goal”/Ensemble; Harold – Rebecca Peck, Dianne Wilkinson  8. “What All The Shoutin’s About”/Melton – Rebecca Peck, Dianne Wilkinson  9. “Jesus Picked A Rose”/Matt – Rebecca Peck  10. “Sweet Beulah Land”/Harold – Squire Parsons

*Video Credit (Various Artists – Topic)

Top Ten Back Then

#4In this week’s top ten back then selection, we transport back 36 years to March 1980.

During this era, the Singing News was muddied with all styles of Christian music, making an impact at the time.  They did try to be everything to everyone.  It wasn’t until around 1983 when Singing News shifted to focus on just Southern Gospel music.

That didn’t mean, the Southern Gospel artists at this time still didn’t dominate the radio singles chart.  The Inspirations, “A Wedding Invitation”, was #4 on the March 1980 Singing News top 40.  Penned by John Terry Frost, “A Wedding Invitation” was found on the Inspirations 1979 album; Have Something To Sing About.

1980Other March 1980 Memorable Moments:

  • Louisville beat UCLA 59-54 in the 42nd NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
  • Willard Scott became the weather forecaster on the Today Show.
  • JR is shot on the hit TV series, Dallas.
  • Mt St Helens became active after 123 years.

*Video Credit (Southern Gospel Music)

Least Remarkable Song Series – #15

inspirations1976anniversaryalbummaxThe least remarkable song series continues this week with the song ranked 15th.  Southern Gospel music, more than any other musical genre, has had more songs written about mama.

The 1970’s had plenty of mama songs from “Mama” to “Mama’s Last Amen” to “Heaven Will Never Welcome A Sweeter Mama” to “Mama Needs No Marker” to “Mama’s Alto” to “Mama’s Bible” to “Hello Mama”.  You get the picture.

While the majority will agree they love their mama and several ‘mama’ songs are good, the majority come off cheesy.  Of all the ‘mama’ songs written in the history of the genre, the least remarkable is the song ranked 15th; “Shake Hands With Mother Again”.

I believe the song can be attributed to W.A. Berry and was first recorded in Southern Gospel music in 1967.  The most noted version of the song came from the Inspirations in the 1970’s, recorded on their 12th Anniversary Live recording in 1976.

Why is this particular ‘mama’ song the least remarkable?  I believe the last thing one would do when they see their mother again is shake her hand.  You’re not conducting a business transaction.  Here is the Inspirations version of the song, “Shake Hands With Mother Again”.