Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  Please allow me to indulge in a bit of shameless self promotion.  Did you know that Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row has a companion YouTube channel.  It’s sole purpose of keeping Southern Gospel music from the 60s/70s/80s/90s alive.

Also, I wanted to alert my readers that the song of the day is back.  Please look on the left sidebar.

And, finally the ‘ask me anything’ feature will stay a permanent part of the blog.  Please look on the left sidebar.  Click on the ‘ask me anything’ pic and leave a question anytime in the comments section.

All of this was also to say thanks to my readers for allowing me (7) years now to provide you my insights on Southern Gospel music through Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row.

They Don’t Know: Kingsmen

GRADE:  B

  • Album – They Don’t Know
  • Artist – Kingsmen
  • Label – Horizon Records
  • Style – Progressive, Traditional
  • Release Date – 04/14/17
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  39 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the new album from the Kingsmen, They Don’t Know.  The album’s release date was pushed back about three weeks, but is now available to the retail marketplace.

The Kingsmen are celebrating 25 years now with Crossroads and the Horizon records label.  To longtime Kingsmen listeners, They Don’t Know is the most progressive Southern Gospel recording the group has ever recorded.

This is also the first Kingsmen recording for new tenor vocalist, Joshua Horrell.  Have to also give a shout out to Ray Dean Reese for his nearly 50 years with the Kingsmen!

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Lee Black and Marcia Henry co-wrote the stand out track on They Don’t Know, “Hear The Word Of The Lord”.  The song features Bob and would make a great radio single choice.
  • The most traditional Southern Gospel friendly song on the recording is “Don’t Underestimate God’s Grace”.  Randy is featured on this mid-tempo number that should have had Ray featured on at least one verse of the song.  And it has some crying steel guitar!!
  • New tenor vocalist Joshua Horrell is given a chance to shine on They Don’t Know, given no less than three features.  His strongest is the progressive Southern Gospel ballad, “God Calls It Grace”.
  • Speaking of progressive, a good chunk of the album sounds like Brian Free and Assurance from ten years ago.  One such song is the album’s opening track and first radio single, “They Don’t Know (What The Lord Can Do)”.
  • The classic Ila Knight penned, “I’ll Sail Away Yonder” will keep traditional quartet fans happy.  You may also find yourself hitting the repeat button.
  • Can’t leave Randy out of the highlights.  His performance on the ballad, “The Evidence I Need” is a must listen.
  • Speaking of Randy, he penned “Fade To Black”.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Hear The Word Of The Lord”, “Don’t Underestimate God’s Grace”, “God Calls It Grace”, “I’ll Sail Away Yonder”, “The Evidence I Need”, “They Don’t Know (What The Lord Can Do)” and “Keep The Lions Hungry”.
CRITIQUE:
  • It is a travesty that long time, living legend, Southern Gospel hall of fame member, Ray Dean Reese didn’t even get one featured verse.  Shame!
  • A good portion of the album sounding like Brian Free and Assurance from ten years ago.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Legacy” and “Let Go And Hold Fast”.

WRAP UP:

Knowing it would be nearly impossible to follow-up their previous effort, Battle Cry, I applaud the Kingsmen and producer Jeff Collins for taking They Don’t Know in a different musical direction.  An album they can definitely be proud of.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “They Don’t Know (What The Lord Can Do)”/Randy – Jason Cox, Kenna West, Tony Wood  2. “Keep The Lions Hungry“/Ensemble; Bob – Regina Walden  3. “God Calls It Grace“/Joshua – Megan Mulnix, Logan Peck  4. “Hear The Word Of The Lord”/Bob – Lee Black, Marcia Henry  5. “The Evidence I Need”/Randy – Dave Clark, Jason Cox, Kenna West  6. “I’ll Sail Away Yonder”/Ensemble – Ila Knight  7. “Cost Of The Cross”/Bob – Kristi Fitzwater, Jerald Hill  8. “Let Go And Hold Fast“/Joshua – Regina Walden  9. “Fade To Black”/Joshua – Randy Crawford  10. “Don’t Underestimate God’s Grace”/Randy – Sandy Knight  11. “Legacy”/Bob – Barbara Fairchild, Marty Funderburk

Best Album Openers: “Meet Me At The Table”

kingsmen1986standupmaxLets start a new week by taking a look at another of Southern Gospel’s best album openers.

That opening song on an album sets the tone for the entire recording.  It is even more important when the artist is recording a live album.

This week’s best album opener comes from the Kingsmen’s 1986 live recording, Stand Up At Opryland USA.  The Kingsmen were in fact kings of the live recording.  They recorded more live albums than any other artist in Southern Gospel music.

“Meet Me At The Table” is one of the Kingsmen’s best album openers.  Ronny Hinson and Mike Payne came together to pen this, now, classic.

VOTE: Best Of 2016: Radio Single/Song Cover

3rdannualThis week we will wrap up voting in the 3rd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.  What was the best radio single and song cover of 2016?  You get one vote per day.  Poll closes 12/05/16.  Click the link on each nominee to see an audio/video of the nominees.

NQC 2016: Tuesday Night Recap

2016-lefevre-branded-photo-800x480Tuesday night of the 2016 National Quartet Convention is now in the record books.  The night overall was mediocre, especially compared to last night’s memorable moments.  I was hard pressed to find the highlights.  Tonight, there are definitely more misses than hits.

  • I’ve enjoyed the hall of fame segments the last two evenings.  Carroll McGruder’s music, along with the McGruders had a ton of impact on me as a teenager.  Glad to see him honored.
  • Boy, do I miss hearing a steel guitar at Southern Gospel concerts.  Thank you Jeff and Sheri Easter for providing that highlight tonight.
  • The Down East Boys was an early highlight.  “One Way, One Name, One Door” is one of the most played Southern Gospel songs in my playlists for 2016.
  • Kim Collingsworth’s speech about music/life was far better than anything else the group’s segment provided tonight.
  • The LeFevre Quartet ended the evening on a strong note.

  • Did the tenor mic seem off tonight or was it just the tenor singers?  The tenor vocal in the mix (at least through the web cam) overpowered the other vocalists for the majority of sets.  The sound crew didn’t take the mic from last night’s presidential debate, did they?
  • Did Mark Bishop burp on the ending to “Pray On The Little Days”?
  • Have the Inspirations thought about retirement?
  • The Booth Brothers trying to create a musical moment with the Collingsworth Family derailed when “Life’s Railway To Heaven” turned in to a train wreck?
  • Speaking of the Booth Brothers/Collingsworth Family segment; combined the artists got one hour on stage and they still went over.

 

**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “One Way, One Name, One Door” – Down East Boys  (2) “It Is No Secret” – Booth Brothers  (3) “I Know” – Kingsmen  (4) “I Want To Walk With My Lord” – LeFevre Quartet  **some of you would think I didn’t watch the entire night because of the number of song performances I enjoyed.  But I did, oh I did.

Best Set of the Night:  I nearly named my bed best set of the night for keeping me comfortable while watching tonight’s program but the LeFevre Quartet came through in the end (despite staging “Oh What A Savior”) to pull off the most solid of any on the night.

Top Ten Back Then

no8-desktoplogo (236x250)This week, I decided to step back 31 years to June 1985.  The biggest quartets of the era (Cathedrals, Florida Boys, Gold City, Inspirations, Singing Americans) had a song in the top ten in June 1985.  The Kingsmen, also part of that list, would find a home at #8 for the month.

The Felecia Shiflett penned, “Empty Vessel”, from the Kingsmen’s 1984 recording, The Game Of Life, spent the month of June 1985 at #8 on the Southern Gospel radio singles chart.  This was the most successful single from this particular album.  The song would go on to peak out in the top five.

1985 (250x233)Other Happenings In June 1985:

  • The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics for the NBA championship.
  • After the disaster of New Coke, Coca Cola announced they would bring back their classic formula.
  • Earl Weaver came out of retirement to manage the Baltimore Orioles.
  • A bomb destroyed Air India flight 747 near Ireland, killing 329.

*Video Credit (herecalico)