17th Avenue Revival: Oak Ridge Boys

GRADE:  B+

  • Album:  17th Avenue Revival
  • Artist:  Oak Ridge Boys
  • Label:  Lightning Rod
  • Style:  Traditional, Progressive
  • Release Date:  03/16/18
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  27 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

Today, we take a look at the new album from the Oak Ridge Boys; 17th Avenue Revival.

The Oak Ridge Boys recorded this new album at the historic RCA studio A in Nashville TN.  The group also decided to release 17th Avenue Revival on vinyl.  Vinyl has become popular again among mainstream musical genres.  Will we see this return to Vinyl in Southern Gospel music?

Joe Bonsall (tenor), Duane Allen (lead), William Lee Golden (baritone) and Richard Sterban (bass) give listeners their best gospel album since From The Heart (2001).

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Oaks went back to give listeners traditional Southern Gospel quartet music with the classic, “Walk In Jerusalem”.  Richard Sterban still shows that he is a master class in bass singing.  This is a must listen!
  • Duane Allen provides a new song with a ’70s musical flair, “There Will Be Light”.  This would be a strong choice for radio single possibilities.
  • Another strong up-tempo number is the Joe Bonsall feature, “God’s Got It”.  This song will have you hitting repeat before moving on to the rest of the album.
  • The album opens with another classic Southern Gospel sounding song, “A Brand New Star”.  The up-tempo tune talks about remembering a loved one who has passed.
  • William Lee Golden performs one of the most thought-provoking songs on the album, “If I Die”.  The song goes through various scenarios of how he could die with the final scenario of dying, praying and ending up with loved ones in Heaven.  Loved this song!
  • The album closes with another favorite, “Let It Shine On Me”.  This spiritual number may have you dancing before it ends.
  • The production of 17th Avenue Revival hearkens back to the classic days of Southern Gospel music.  Every instrument used on the recording could easily be translated to the concert stage.  Kudos to Dave Cobb on producing this record!
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Walk In Jerusalem”, “There Will Be Light”, “God’s Got It”, “A Brand New Star”, “If I Die”, “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and “Let It Shine On Me”.
CRITIQUE:
  • There is a bit of a silly but fun song titled “Pray To Jesus” that talks about praying to Jesus and playing the lottery.  It does fit the Oak Ridge Boys.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Pray To Jesus”.

WRAP UP:

The Oak Ridge Boys have given listeners their best gospel recording since From The Heart (2001).  This album could ultimately be one of the best Southern Gospel albums released in 2018.

SONG (tempo)/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “A Brand New Star” (Fast)/William; Ensemble – Aaron Raitiere, Mando Saenz  2. “There Will Be Light” (Slow)/Duane – Buddy Cannon, Jamey Johnson, Larry Shell  3. “God’s Got It” (Fast)/Joe; Ensemble – Charlie Jackson  4. “I’d Rather Have Jesus” (Slow)/William – Rhea Miller, George Beverly Shea  5. “Walk In Jerusalem” (Mid/Fast)/Richard; Ensemble – Traditional  6. “Where He Leads Me I Will Follow” (Slow)/Duane; Joe – Ernest Blandy  7. “Pray To Jesus” (Fast)/Joe – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnallay  8. “If I Die” (Slow)/William – Vince Gill, Ashley Monroe  9. “Let It Shine On Me” (Fast)/Duane; Richard; Ensemble – Lead Belly

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Southern Gospel Clones

In the case of today’s post, a clone is an artist that duplicates, imitates or closely resembles another artist in appearance, performance or style.

Today’s post is not meant to be a bad thing (as in the myriad of carbon copy artists in the industry), but one that will take a Southern Gospel artist from the past and match them to an artist of today that best resembles/carries on the sound of the great artist of the past.  I will continue this feature with several more posts.

  • Downings match is the Taylors
  • Florida Boys match is Freedom Quartet
  • Happy Goodmans match is the Perrys
  • Hinsons match is the Hinson Family
  • Mid South Boys match is Akins
  • Oak Ridge Boys match is Triumphant

So with the artists in today’s grouping, do you agree with my choices or do you feel other artists match closer to the great artists of the past?

Song Hall Of Fame: “King Jesus”

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

Today’s inductee goes back to 1973; “King Jesus”.  A slew of artists recorded the song during this time but it was one rendition that became the most popular.  That rendition was from the Oak Ridge Boys.

The song was found on the group’s 1973 album, Street Gospel.  A year later (1974) the Oak Ridge Boys would record a live version of “King Jesus” on Gospel Gold.

Maurice Delamont is honored by writing this Southern Gospel classic.

Least Remarkable Song Series – #6

oaks1969thanksmaxThis week, ranked 6th among the least remarkable songs recorded in the history of Southern Gospel music is a song titled, “Mama’s Hungry Eyes”.

Country music legend Merle Haggard penned this country tune that went to #1 on Billboard’s country singles chart in 1969.  It was the first single from his 1968 recording, A Portrait Of Merle Haggard and became one of the biggest songs of his career.

While a great country record, it didn’t quite translate to the Gospel music audience when recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys on their 1969 recording, Thanks.  The first time I heard the song, I thought it was about a women who left her family because her husband wasn’t providing her luxuries in life.  I know, Merle’s story behind the song doesn’t translate to my initial reaction.

The only other Gospel quartet to record this song was the Blue Ridge Quartet in 1970.

VOTE: Hall Of Fame (Individual) and Vocal Collaboration

INVITATIONToday begins voting for the 2nd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.  Today, you vote for vocal collaboration and hall of fame (individual).  Polls will be open for one week.  I am also allowing one vote per person per day.  So come back each day for a week and vote for who you consider to be the best of 2015.  Click the link on each nominee to see an audio/video of the nominees.

Vocal Collaboration (two artists coming together on a song from a 2015 album release)

  1. “Another Time, Another Place” – Gary Driskell; recorded by Amber Nelon Thompson (Just Sing); joined by Michael English
  2. “Heaven In Your Heart” – Joseph Habedank/Marcia Henry/Matt Price; recorded by Shane Dunlap (Love So Amazing); joined by Sonya Isaacs
  3. Sweet Jesus” – Merle Haggard/Kenny Vernon; recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys (Rock Of Ages: Hymns And Gospel Favorites); joined by Merle Haggard
  4. “Time Has Made A Change” – Harkins Fry; recorded by the Perrys (Sing); joined by Kelly Nelon Clark/Karen Peck Gooch
  5. “Without Your Love” – Jason Clark/Joel Lindsey; recoded by Amber Nelon Thompson (Just Sing); joined by Joseph Habedank

Hall Of Fame – Individual (artist with a 30+ year career in Southern Gospel still producing hits in 2015)

  1. Sheri Easter (Artist/Songwriter)
  2. William Lee Golden (Artist)
  3. Karen Peck Gooch (Artist/Songwriter)
  4. Dianne Wilkinson (Songwriter)
  5. Gerald Wolfe (Artist)

Top Ten Back Then

5Mag (175x175)In this week’s top ten back then selection, we travel back 41 years to October 1974.  The song that came in at #5 on the Singing News top 40 chart for the month was the Oak Ridge Boys; “What A Time We Will Have Over There”.

The song, penned by Richard and Vivian Reid was found on the group’s first album (self titled) for Columbia Records, released in 1974.  This was also the first album to feature Joe Bonsall on the tenor.

1974 (175x140)This was the highest the song would reach on the top 40 chart.  This also happened to be the first Oak Ridge Boys album to feature the four vocalists still traveling with the group today; Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban.

Here is a YouTube clip of the song that landed at #5 in October 1974; the Oak Ridge Boys, “What A Time We Will Have Over There”.

*Video Credit (DJ Wagner)

Ten On Ten (Redux) – Oak Ridge Boys

orb1974hymnsmaxThis week the ten on ten (redux) will re-visit the Oak Ridge Boys. On January 24th, 2012, I presented the original ten on ten feature for the Oak Ridge Boys highlighting the group’s ten best albums.  Since that time the group has released Back Home Again (2012) and Rock Of Ages: Hymns & Gospel Favorites (2015).  Neither album changed the original top ten list.  This redux feature will shine the spotlight on the three lowest ranking albums of the group’s career.  First, the original list highlighting the group’s ten best recordings.

  1. Performance (1971)
  2. Light (1972)
  3. Sky High (1975)
  4. From The Heart (2001)
  5. Jesus Christ, What A Man (1971)
  6. You’ll Never Walk Alone (1961)
  7. International (1970)
  8. The Solid Gospel Sound Of (1965)
  9. It’s Happening (1969)
  10. I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now (1964)

The lowest ranked albums in the Oak Ridge Boys discography are as follows:

  1. Hymns (1974)
  2. The Boys Are Back (2009)
  3. He Whispers Sweet Peace To Me (1962)