Guest Post: DVD Review: A Tribute to the Cathedral Quartet by Signature Sound

This is a guest post from NewSoGoFan.

As great of a “sound” as Signature Sound has always had, Ernie has always thought visually with the group. It was not a CD project that launched them into the stratosphere but a video—five years ago with their self-titled Gaither DVD. They were already on their way up, but 2005 was the year things really began accelerating for them. Since then, they have found some detractors, but at the same time they have found a large and loyal fan base.

Much as I enjoy the group’s music and sound, my favorite moments from the group have mostly come when they settle down for something classic and classy like “Lovest Thou Me” or “Since Jesus Passed By.” Of course I wouldn’t be without the high energy of “Trying to Get a Glimpse” or “Stand By Me,” but in terms of presentation and delivery, the group shines best when they do it low-key. They have proven time and again that their famous “choreography” is a dispensable part of what they do.

When approaching this tribute project, Ernie knew that classy was the way to go, and now that I’ve seen the finished product, I can say that it has paid huge dividends. This could quite possibly be their best video since the early days of Stand By Me Live. The set is majestic without being ostentatious, the wardrobe couldn’t be more tasteful (matching blue pin-stripes), their hair is combed ( 🙂 ), and virtually all of the numbers are delivered “flat-footed” with minimal choreography.

Yet while the importance of these things cannot be stressed enough, obviously what drives the project is the songs and the music. So without further ado, let’s watch how this concert unfolds…

“Wedding Music”: The concert opens with lights down and a live band introduction playing variations on “Here Comes the Bride.” The group has taken to using this clip as an introduction for their concerts on the tour, and it works well to open up the night. “Here Comes the Bride” was chosen, of course, because of the title of the opening song.

The crowd applauds and stands when the quartet makes their appearance, and the lights go up when they begin to sing. This introduction provides a marked contrast with something like Get Away Jordan, where the guys run out on stage with big smiles and bring the microphones into place with their feet. None of that here: They just step forward and sing.

The crowd responds immediately at the beginning of Tim’s solo, and he delivers it with great confidence. Ernie nails his tag at the end just like old times with the Cats. Just a smooth performance and a natural choice for an introductory number.

At this point they moved directly to “Step Into the Water,” which was easily one of the best performances of the night. Every single member is in peak form here. Tim does some awesome improvisation even beyond what he does on the CD—the descending “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” bass line going into the final chorus sounds exactly like George.

I mentioned that Doug and Ernie’s duet was a treat to listen to on the CD, but it’s even better to watch. The two of them together on stage are absolute vocal dynamite. They’re like sparring partners—they sharpen each other as they work together. They’ve known each other longer than any other two members of the group, and it’s obvious that they are good friends both on and off the stage. The addition of Devin on the last line of the verse then makes an awesome triple punch—love the way they draw out the word “eternally.”

The group’s trademark choreography makes a small appearance towards the end of the performance with a few hand motions. Nothing over-the-top, it just works well with the song.

Generally on their previous DVDs, Ernie has paused after two songs for a speaking segment. Here they just keep going, and next up is “Boundless Love.” My thoughts on the “boom, boom, CLAP” rhythm at the beginning remain the same, but it is admittedly a great attention-getter and draws the audience in from note one. Dianne Wilkinson said they had her hooked right away. 😛

This is a dynamic song and a dynamic arrangement, and watching all four guys work together on it is like watching a well-oiled machine.  And then at the key change, everything just explodes (in a very good way!) as Ernie begins to belt it out. Moreover, the “stomping” rhythm is going away right about now, and that actually makes audience participation easier because the “clapping” rhythm comes more naturally. Ernie then takes it up yet another notch and continues to nail it, even going higher than he did with the Cathedrals. Also notable is Wayne’s piano work—it can be easy to overlook Wayne because he’s not the sort of performer who draws attention to himself, but he forms an integral part of what’s happening on stage.

When you’ve got a good thing going, keep it going, and they do so here with several encores. Everybody stands up for the first encore, and the guys keep up the energy level all the way through. This is a fantastic live number that should become a concert staple for the group. The song is an instantly recognizable classic, and it never fails to get a crowd excited and on their feet.

After eliciting a standing ovation three songs into the night without a single word spoken, Ernie pauses for a few brief words and then sings “I’m Gonna Live Forever.” Then Ernie does group introductions, and he runs through the joke about Devin that the last name “McGlamery” means “albino porcupine.” Interestingly enough, this is the only moment of the night that is even remotely corny. This project is pretty much entirely free of the standard forced humor/recycled jokes that have become part of the stereotype of gospel music. Given the venue and the occasion, this feels appropriate.

Ernie talks a little about the Stamps-Baxter school of music, George and Glen’s history there, and the group’s own recent concert for the students to set up “Old Convention Song.” Tracey Philips takes the piano, and she truly is an expert at what she does. Ernie even calls for a repeat of her intro (though I’m not sure whether he really did forget to sing the first time or had planned the repeat in advance). The instrumentation on this song was completely live, which gives the performance extra charm.

The next number, surprisingly, is “Oh What a Savior.” This song is generally placed at the end of Signature Sound concerts and videos, so the fact that it was placed fairly early in the program this time was a clue of what was coming later! Before the song, Ernie talks about his first concert with the Cathedrals, singing this song. George Younce told part of the story on The Best of the Cathedrals, but it’s fun to hear it from Ernie, partly because he adds details like the fact that Gloria “prayed the sweetest prayer for him,” but Bill didn’t pray for him at all. Tsk, tsk. 😉

Then Wayne kicks off the song on the piano, and they sing the first verse and chorus with nothing else backing them up. I really like the way Wayne handles the accompaniment here—it’s very tasteful, yet there’s a sense of coiled up energy there as well to emphasize the words “He gavehis... life’s blood…” Ernie starts off a little breathy, but his vocal gains strength as the arrangement builds. The drums join in to punctuate the climactic moment, and he nails it, as ever, with power and practiced ease. You can hear Timmy singing “Oh yeah” under his breath at that moment. “Oh yeah” indeed! For the last chorus, the live band is still front and center, but you can hear the strings and brass soundtrack kicking in too for added drama. I really liked the fact that they started off “bare bones” with just piano, then gradually built off of that. Something else I noticed and appreciated about this rendition was that it was all on the stage—zero stacked vocals. But it still sounded great. More of this, please. As a matter of fact, I am going to go out on a limb and say that I cannot detect a single stack throughout the concert. They may have been used without my knowledge, but in that case it was done very sparingly, to the point where I for one could not hear them.

Some people might dispute the inclusion of yet another version of this song on the project, since the group has recorded it so many times before. But the night really wouldn’t have been complete without it. It never gets old, and it belonged here. (Just ask the people who were there!) And yet, it is to Ernie’s credit that he deliberately did not make it the focal point of the evening—he clearly wanted the focus to be on George and Glen.

“Wonderful Grace of Jesus”: Ernie brings Wayne onto the stage and introduces him as the producer/arranger. A humorous moment ensues when Wayne tries to give every member his note… including Timmy, which doesn’t quite work. Fortunately Timmy managed to find his note too. 😉

There’s nothing like watching a talented group sing acapella live, standing in one place, with no stacks or extra studio gloss. For this reason, I much prefer the DVD version to the CD version: The vocals sound much warmer here (but still outstanding).

In a rare moment of mischief, Timmy tugs on the shoulder of Doug’s suit-jacket during the upward modulation on the word “me.” Doug is unappreciative, which is funny to watch. Interestingly, they appear to end up in a higher key than where they end on the studio cut. The performance earned them another standing ovation.

From here they go directly into “Sinner Saved By Grace.” My thoughts on the arrangement and the vocals remain the same from my review of the CD. Doug’s solo sounded somewhat different from his studio delivery, but it was just as good in its own way. For Doug, singing seems as easy as breathing in and out. He’s such a natural on the stage, and you can always count on him for an exciting performance. I’ve nicknamed him “dependable Doug” because he never seems to have an off night. This solo was good enough to elicit applause even before the first chorus got underway.

Devin’s solo also went over well with the audience. He absolutely nails his tag on the line, “Now I live and breathe in freedom.” It’s a great experience to watch the arrangement build in excitement through the key change to the high ending. Ernie nails his note at the end very powerfully. All things considered, this performance is a definite highlight.

“Yesterday”: Ernie sets up this song by talking about how so many things have changed, even within the Cathedrals family. George, Glen and Roger are all gone, and even one of George’s daughters has passed away. Yet with all these changes, George’s own words reiterate the simple, timeless truth that “Jesus will never, ever change. Jesus is always the same.”

Devin’s step-out is even richer than on the CD, and brief as it is, it’s one of the night’s stand-out solos. The blend as a whole is just gorgeous, particularly on the last line.

While the guys sing, a slideshow plays behind them with snapshots of some of these heroes of the faith, on and off the stage. Some of the photos are recycled, but some of them are fresh, and they are all beautiful. Combining this song with these shots is very effective and only enhances the poignancy of the experience.

Watching this performance together with the slideshow, it really came home to me that this encapsulates everything I love about gospel music. There is much more going on here than just an excellent performance of a sweet song. It reminded me of a comment I read from somebody arguing that gospel music needs to be more progressive. The artists at a Homecoming he had recently attended seemed to him to be “holding onto some great moment in the past.” He said this to imply that they needed to let go of the past and “come forward” into the present.

But really, how long is the present here? Every second that passes becomes a part of the past. And if we let go of the past, exactly what are we left with? We must hold onto these “great moments.” Even as we live from day to day, looking towards the future, we must never, ever forget to turn and look back, often. As I watched this video, I felt like I was being given a window into the past, and it seemed just as close as the present—in a way, even closer. At the closing phrase, “the same,” the glorious sameness of God came into clear focus like never before… and in the middle of it all those two old men, George and Glen, sitting together and singing their hearts out to Him. In one sense, they are no longer with us, and yet thanks to God’s unchanging, unfailing love, they are with us still. He is “the same” indeed. Praise Him.

Here the group takes a brief break from Cathedrals songs and does an Influenced set. Ernie sets it up by talking about a conversation he had with George and Glen about the “good ole days” of early-morning radio shows—funny story. All the performances are enjoyable. “My Heart is a Chapel” is especially fun because the guys deliberately put a twang into their vocals to mimic that old-time radio sound. Ernie is obviously enjoying himself immensely, and the harmonies are (as usual) flawless.

Next is “Swinging On the Golden Gate,” which is best enjoyed live. Doug is in tip-top vocal form and delivers the goods. It’s also humorous to see Timmy get “knocked” on and pushed around by Ernie (they’ve done the routine at concerts, but it’s more enjoyable to see it up close). At the end, they throw in an encore of the final breakdown. This is probably the moment of the night when the guys most “cut loose,” but even so it doesn’t seem obtrusive or over-the-top. The band is in peak form here too: Kevin looks like he’s tearing it up on the electric guitar. After this number, Ernie pauses to introduce the members, including David Griffith on bass and Zak Shumate on drums. Speaking of Zak, this guy was on cloud nine all night long, and it showed. He just exudes fun and youthful energy with every move he makes. It puts a smile on my face whenever the camera cuts over to show him at work. He really adds a lot to the video—wouldn’t be the same without him. Just watch him go at it on “Boundless Love!”

But the icing on the cake is “Walk With Me.” This has become a bit of a “second-tier signature song” for Ernie, after “Oh What a Savior.” For this one, they brought out the “big gun” on the piano—Bill Gaither himself. There’s some interaction with Bill before the song, but it looks like some of it was edited out for the DVD. Eventually he sits down and begins “managing expectations” about how incredible he is going to be, inviting Wayne and Tracey to sit back and get schooled. Plus he’s sure to throw in the mandatory gospel history lesson, talking about how Hovie Lister used to direct from the piano with the Statesmen. (I’m getting deja vu, because I could have sworn he gave that same lecture on another video…) Anyway, Tracey and Wayne are unimpressed, to say the least, and partway through they give him a five and a zero respectively (on a scale of one to ten). 😆 But the performance is pure perfection, and Ernie delivers one of the best vocals of the night. Bill predicted that the crowd would go crazy, and sure enough, it got a standing ovation, good enough for an encore. Favorite moment: When Ernie picks up his microphone and starts edging towards Bill with it. “I’m following you.” Priceless! I’m still sorting out my personal top five performances from the video, but this one is a must-include regardless.

“Can He, Could He, Would He”: Remember the sousaphone? Here, we actually get to SEE it, and it’s played by none other than Wayne Haun himself! I must confess that I have a (pernicious?) desire to break into the Veggie Tales theme song whenever I watch this video. Wayne looks just like Larry the Cucumber. 😉 Tracey comes out from behind the keys to play a clarinet, which is fun to see. Devin takes the lead and makes me smile with the enthusiasm he brings to his part. At the end, the guys walk in a circle around the intrepid sousaphone player, and at the very end, the camera zooms in on some little kids who are also dancing in a circle in the front of the audience (invited to come down beforehand). It’s a very cute touch that definitely enhances the performance.

“Mexico”: This number epitomizes just how big a difference the visual element can make on a DVD when compared with a CD. When I listen to the song on the CD, all I can think about is how inherently dorky it is. But all the extra stuff that’s going on in the DVD makes the number fun and enjoyable to watch. We have Wayne playing a marimba in the back, Tracey on maracas (is there any instrument they can’t play between the two of them?) and some downright hilarious sombrero business. Obviously, everything must have been choreographed ahead of time, but it is still funny to see the guys snickering at Ernie’s pink sombrero while he asks, “What color’s mine?” Then of course he takes it off, reacts and says, “Somebody’s gonna get it.” It’s all the guys can do to get through the rest of the song without laughing. The last part of the song is inter-spliced with footage from a Cathedrals performance (with their own sombreros), and it makes for a fun side-by-side watch. Ultimately, this song ends up being sort of a parody of itself, but that’s probably the whole point.

After this number, Ernie introduces his old mentor and first boss Squire Parsons to sing his signature song, “Beulah Land.” He sets up the song by talking about the pivotal role Squire played in “grooming and polishing” him for ultimately fulfilling his dream of singing with the Cathedrals. It’s a touching moment and a classy move on Ernie’s part.

“God Delivers Again”: Great, great song to watch live. Timmy and Ernie knock their step-outs out of the park, and Wayne sparkles on the piano. They also throw in some vocal embellishments not on the studio version, like holding out the chord on the word “flee” and throwing in some “Whoa-oh-whoas” to give the chorus extra punch. This performance was encored and got an enthusiastic audience response.

Then Zak immediately kicks it off on “He Made a Change.” Some might dispute the inclusion of this song, since Signature Sound has already recorded it, but given its significance as the Cats’ last #1, it makes sense to me. How does this version compare to EHSS’s previous one? Well, the main difference is that the sound is less polished, but there’s a reason for that: They’re relying exclusively on a live band. Trading in the original cut’s slick brass and piano for an “earthier” percussion and guitar-driven sound, this version makes up in chemistry what it lacks in polish. Bits of gospel-flavored organ can be heard sprinkled throughout for added flavor. It’s a great experience to watch the band “jam out” here. This gives you a pretty good idea of how the guys and their band sound live and in concert. I can’t decide which of the two versions I prefer—each is great in its own way.

But once again, what ultimately seals it is the visuals. After an introductory chorus, Ernie pauses for a word about Cathedrals songwriters and invites Joel Lindsey and Dianne Wilkinson to stand up in the audience (and Miss Dianne, if you’re reading this…you looked great that night!) This makes for a really nice, classy moment. And since Ernie is talking about how every great quartet needs great songs, Joel’s presence is doubly appropriate given that he’s penned the group’s own best original, “Calvary Answers For Me.”

Then on the second chorus, Ernie motions the band to pull back while they sing sotto voce, and Tim’s bass line is very prominent. Some great banter ensues at this point between Tim and Ernie. The look on Timmy’s face at the end of the song is absolutely priceless! Tim generally keeps his thoughts to himself, but here he loosens up a little. As quiet as he usually is, he does have a bit of a twinkle in his eye. 😉 Another standing ovation for this performance.

Next up is “Moving Up to Gloryland,” and this is definitely one of those “better live” kind of songs because it’s just so funny to watch Ernie and everybody else do the “moo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoovin” part. And yes, I do mean everybody else. Look for special appearances from various band members and, best of all, Timmy (big crowd response on that one)! The audience itself gets a turn at the end.

One of the most moving moments of the night was when Ernie went down into the audience and introduced family members of the Cathedrals—brothers and sisters, widows, sons and daughters, and even grandsons. As people who were there will recall, a major highlight came when George Younce, Jr. offered an impromptu version of “The Laughing Song.” The resemblance to his father’s voice is quite striking—Timmy gives him a thumbs-up, from one bass to another. After rolling a clip of George himself singing the song, Ernie takes a few minutes to share some stories. He tells them very well, especially the one about how Glen drank a can of Sprite and thought he was getting a shot of caffeine (!)

Ernie then introduces the song “I Thirst” by talking about how that song held special significance for George as a former alcoholic. It’s one of the most moving songs on the project, and this performance is beautifully done. Wayne’s piano work complements the vocals perfectly.

Next is “Champion of Love.” At the beginning, an old-fashioned microphone is lowered as George Younce’s recorded voice begins the spoken introduction. This microphone is then pulled back up when his part is over. It’s an interesting bit of stage business, and for people who enjoy the song, George’s spoken intro provides a nice added touch.

Wayne of course takes the lead and handles it very well. Whether he’s writing, playing, or producing, Wayne brings a lot to the world of gospel music, but here he proves that he can sing as well. Ernie sits on the piano bench until the last chorus (per Cathedrals tradition), and the audience stands when he bursts in on the climax. Afterwards, he embraces Wayne and verbally presents him to the crowd. I look forward to hearing Wayne’s voice on more material in the future. I doubt this will be the last we hear from him.

Wayne is back at the piano for the next song, “Plan of Salvation.” What can I say? A beautiful song, and well-loved too—the crowd began applauding the moment they recognized it. Timmy’s solo is very potent, and it’s a treat to watch Kevin Williams smiling in the background as Tim sings. Ernie gives him the “OK” sign afterwards: Bravo Timmy! This is one of those quiet, hidden highlights of the project, and I already anticipate coming back to it again and again.

Then comes the focal point of the evening: “We Shall See Jesus.” Ernie talks a bit about how they had planned to “stay away from” this song, because it was Glen’s song. But as Ernie quite rightly says, that wouldn’t be what Glen himself would want. He would be the last person to want the song to die with him. A couple old photos of Devin with Glen are put up on the screen as Ernie talks about how Glen was Devin’s hero. It’s great to see how even at such a young age, Devin knew who his heroes were and was proud of it. Not every kid is that unabashed about his heroes, but Devin clearly was, and it’s beautiful to see him at twelve singing next to that great man.

Ernie tells him to “paint the picture,” and that he does. As great as this song is to listen to, it is so much more powerful to watch it unfold live on stage. Devin begins singing, and Dianne Wilkinson herself  is already wiping tears away before his solo is finished. Everybody nails the second verse, and then…Devin turns around and introduces the man himself: Mr. Glen Payne. Some people thought that it might have been better or generated a bigger response if the group had chosen to sing the song without the video of Glen for the tribute. I disagree. On the tour, yes, it makes sense to let Devin carry the song. But here it was completely appropriate. And what a moment it was! I did not pre-order and get the project with Kleenex, but let’s just say that if I had… I would have been reaching for them when Glen came on screen. And it’s not just seeing Glen, it’s seeing his wife and family in tears as he sings. I defy anybody to watch this and not be deeply moved. Even Devin is shedding tears as he turns away from the screen.

Glen stays with them through the remainder of the song, and it’s hard to describe just how powerful that is. When people lose a loved one today, too many of them turn to empty means of comfort like letter-writing, or worse, to the occult, to give themselves a feeling of communication with the person. Yet Glen’s presence through video with the group as they sing provides a powerful reminder of the communion of saints without any such desperate measures. We as Christians do not need to convince ourselves that Glen is alive—we know that he is alive. He was with the group that night in more ways than one. Yes, we will see him again one day, but in the meanwhile, we have the assurance that he is living still.

At the actual concert, there were a couple more numbers at this point: a medley around the piano and a video of George and Glen singing “Search Me.” However, “We Shall See Jesus” was such a climactic high point of the evening that it was a smart pacing decision to cut those other songs and make it the penultimate song on the DVD. My only disappointment is that the Gaither medley was not at least included as a bonus feature—that was one number I had been looking forward to seeing. Ah well.

Ernie simply announces the final song by saying that George always told him to “leave ’em happy,” and that’s what they’re going to do. Without further ado, they launch into that wonderful classic, “This Ole House.” Timmy promised me not to goof on this one a few weeks before the taping, and of course he didn’t. (Incidentally, it was Timmy’s solid, rich tones that first drew my attention to this group. I just wanted to hear more of that bass.) A flawless performance, and the crowd stood throughout. Obviously Tim steals the show, but Doug’s step-outs are also spot-on. Zak gives it his all on the drums and does a magnificent job. Ernie takes it home and knocks the last note all the way into left field. This is one of the performances that most makes me wish I had been there to see it in person. The Cathedrals used it to open their concerts, but it works just as well in its own way as a finale—a barn-burner in the truest sense.

Finally, “Boundless Love” is reprised, which is the perfect way to cap off the evening. The quartet bows and takes their leave, leaving a very happy audience indeed.

Minor quibbles about the song selection aside, it’s hard to see how this DVD could have been any better. I might have wanted more B-roll and perhaps some more bonus features (a performance of “Life Will Be Sweeter” is the only bonus on the video), but other than that…terrific. On their Gospel Music Today interview at the NQC, Ernie said that a lot of the group’s high energy has just evolved naturally from their personalities. However, I appreciate the fact that they reined in some of that ebullience for this tribute project, out of respect for the classic style of George and Glen. This gives the DVD a sophisticated feel that would just be lacking otherwise. Wherever Ernie chooses to take the group in the years to come, it would be great to see them continue in this vein, with this style—still bringing a high energy to the table, but with balance and restraint. Yes, obviously that look was right to honor the Cathedrals, but there is a true sense in which this is the real Signature Sound too. And given their increasingly more classic-styled wardrobe since the Get Away Jordan era, it leads one to wonder (hope?) whether perhaps there is a trip to the local Salvation Army headquarters in their near future, at which point the two-toned penguin shoes, striped socks, and assorted other “colorful” accouterments will mysteriously and permanently disappear. (Tongue-in-cheek…kinda. But keep the matching suits. :-P)

At the end of the day, Ernie can be very proud of this project, not only as the master-mind behind its conception but as one of the voices that brought it to life. He was in outstandingly good form on the night this video was taped, and you could almost see him rediscovering his youth as he sang. There was an extra vigor and strength to his singing that really recalled those “glory years” with the Cathedrals. He held nothing back, song after song, and he nailed it every time. This night should go down as a personal tour de force for him. To say that he has “still got it” would be an understatement. His emcee work that night was also very classy and tasteful—at each point he said exactly what needed to be said, no more, no less.

Bottom line: The CD was strong enough for a 4.5 star rating, but it cannot compare to the live experience. These performances are so strong, and the DVD is so beautifully edited, that I would recommend it over and above the studio project. If possible, get both, but if you can only get one, make it the video. You will not be sorry.

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94 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Once again, great review! I felt like I was watching the DVD.

    • Heh. Yes, those are my favorite kind of DVD reviews, just like my favorite kind of CD reviews make me feel like I’m listening to the CD. Just following the golden rule… 😉

  2. I have only seen the DVD. I have a feeling I would like the CD much better. I’m “sorry” but I have found the DVD full of way to many gimmicks. It was almost like I didn’t know what to watch/listen because every screen switch there was something drawing my attention away from the music. I feel as a DVD this has to be my least favorite of all that Ernie Haase & SSQ has put out. I think it was just to much this time, I felt over stimulated and when it was done, I realized I didn’t listen to them sing.

    • Everyone is free to have his own opinion, but I do find it somewhat amusing that you’re criticizing this DVD for gimmicks, and yet you are saying that it’s your LEAST favorite of ALL the videos the group has put out.

      Just think about that for a minute. 😉

    • Interesting. I barely saw any gimmicks on this project.

      • Well, it comes down to how you define “gimmick,” I guess—I can think of a few things that could be taken that way:

        * marching in a circle around the sousaphone
        * the pre-planned children dancing
        * starting with “Here Comes the Bride”
        * the pink sombrero

        Note that I don’t say that I disliked any of these – just that they could be taken as gimmicks by someone so disposed.

      • Sure. But compared to past videos… this is nothing much.

        And the fact that they sang mostly if not all without stacks counts for an awful lot in my book, and other people should take notice too since it’s been one of the main points of criticism from the group’s detractors.

      • For that matter, I suppose some might view the spliced-in intro on “Champion of Love” as gimmicky… then again that would be in keeping with the song itself.

  3. Exactly Daniel etc. etc. etc. “Get Away Jordan” not my favorite but very good had the little drench the coach/fans gatorade toss at the end that was funny, and at the end! I walked away from that video saying funny, high energy, and good songs. Jokes, and showmanship are one thing and they have a place and time. My favorite was the “Do you want to be forgiven” DVD. I can’t recall any on that video I thought “could have done without that.” Please forgive me for this but I just didn’t understand why this video seemed to have that in every frame.

    • You’re thinking of self-titled, which was also excellent.

      • Thanks I thought that was one was awesome!!! I’ll put em in order so you will see where I’m coming from.
        1. self-titled
        2. dream on
        3. get away jordan
        4. cathedrals

        I know there is others but these are the ones I have seen.

      • -Edit-One awesome video is what I meant to type. For the record may it be known that I’m a huge Ernie Hasse & SSQ fan, Ernie is someone I truly believe knows the ONE he sings about, and does his best to live it. Thats what makes him great on stage and off!

  4. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes too.

    Pass the popcorn please? Thank you. You’re on your own jim, I’m just going to sit back and watch what happens here. 😉

    • His comment lasted about 10 seconds…

      • Oh. So that’s where it went! 😀

  5. “He was in outstandingly good form on the night this video was taped, and you could almost see him rediscovering his youth as he sang. There was an extra vigor and strength to his singing that really recalled those “glory years” with the Cathedrals. He held nothing back, song after song, and he nailed it every time. This night should go down as a personal tour de force for him. To say that he has “still got it” would be an understatement.”

    To [almost] quote George NSF, “You never wrote it better”.

    I stretched to both the CD and the DVD on this project – because of its significance, but also to compare the live and studio. If I wrote reviews – which I don’t thus far – I would have written about 95% of this one. Excellent piece of work NSF.

    I do agree with SoP a little. For me the sousaphone marching, and the sombreros could have been done without, they were more a “Getaway…” moment than a George & Glen one.

    The “Influenced” set is, for me, a marketing plug and I would have gladly swapped it for a couple of Cat’s Classics to close the loop – even “Trying to get a Glimpse”, or “Climbing Higher…” which though already recorded would have been a fit here.

    A final thought here – there are a couple of Cat’s Standards still not addressed by EHSS; and the book is not closed until they do.

    Ernie, you gotta do “Somebody Touched Me” and “I’ve Just Started Living”. You can, and you should.

    NSF, a great DVD, an amazing Tribute, and a top class review. Thanks to all!

    • Many thanks to you David! You write great “reviews of reviews.” Most cheering. 🙂

      My respect for Ernie, personally and professionally, is no secret. He has probably been the single biggest influence on me as I’ve stepped into the world of gospel music.

      The sousa-sombrero stuff was cute but non-essential. I didn’t think it was a big deal either way, although as I’ve said, the sombrero moment does help to salvage “Mexico.” 😉

      I have a sneaky suspicion they just wanted to get the Influenced stuff on there SOMEWHERE and couldn’t wait until the next project. So they stuck them in here. Like you, I think “Climbing Higher and Higher” or something in that vein would have been even better, and that one doubly so since they would both get in an Influenced song and a Cats song. But once again, a blip on my radar, and all the performances were great, so I’m not complaining. I mean would you cut “Walk With Me?” I wouldn’t!

      Ernie could do those two, but I think he’s smart not to, and I’ll just leave it at that. Besides, there are other and better that they need to cover to satisfy me first. 😀

      • If you gotta do “Mexico”, I guess you DO need the sombrero – ketchup on kitsch if you will. Not a defining moment for EHSS or the Cat’s!

        NSF, I do think the Cathedral’s Book has still another chapter – we got “Reunion” [need that on DVD]; we got “Farewell” [tear-jerker every time]; and now “Tribute”.

        What more? I think we really need “Cathedral’s Together”. What about a live video, with Danny guesting on his Sig Songs, Gerald on Champion, Mark on Master Builder, Scotty in there too? Maybe a MTQ + L5 + GV + EHSS with Bill emceeing the whole shebang?

        The whole Cat’s Influence/Tribute/Legacy thing on one live concert, and a double DVD?

        Any takers?

      • Agreed on “Mexico.” 🙂

        Honestly you know, I think it’s a little late to do a comprehensive Cathedrals together project. At this point, Signature Sound and… everybody else have gone their separate ways. Those other groups you named did come together on the Remember the Music project. At this point, I think the two different strands of tribute-paying have run parallel for long enough that SG’s powers-that-be would view it as a forced move to make them meet.

        That said, your idea sounds awesome. Maybe I’ll dream about it tonight…

      • I could never forget “Trumpet of Jesus,” but if I’m not mistaken, it’s on a different album. 😀

      • If the various parties had any desire to do such a thing, it would have been done long ago. There’s obviously a reason there are two different “branches” of Cathedrals legacy. I’m clearly more a fan of the Trammell/Wolfe/Funderburk “branch”, but I think Ernie did a good job with this tribute.

      • I will say this much: Vocally, I don’t think there’s any question here as to which group takes the cake.

      • Maybe most of us have little or no doubt, but I suspect we don’t all have the same answer. 😀

      • Here’s what I come up with after thinking about it for a few seconds… the best of the best from the whole MTQ/L5/GV/EHSS pool are…

        Tenor: Ernie, obviously, but Gus and Chris are nothing to sneeze at, to put it mildly.

        Best lead: All leads are solid, but Wolfe would probably be my pick. Sweatman is also good.

        Best baritone: Toss-up between Doug Anderson and Mark Trammell, but I’m going for Doug.

        Best bass: Pat Barker, but don’t underestimate Tim.

        Now how’s that for fair and balanced?

      • I agree for lead but I would pick Mark over Doug for baritone.I would also pick Gus over Ernie. I also agree that Pat Barker has the best voice, although Glen and Tim can both go much lower, and both sound very good as well. I think Glen gets overlooked quite a bit.

      • NSF – fair enough. As incredible as Doug is, I’d still take Mark over Doug, but other than that I would go with your list.

        Johnny – I wouldn’t say that Glen and Tim go much lower, actually – Pat is within one or two half-steps of Tim and within three or 4 (i.e., two whole steps) of Glen. One or two notes – namely, an F as compared to an A or A-flat – is enough to be noticeable but isn’t huge.

      • Even though I think Doug is EHSS’s best singer, picking Mark as the baritone is still an easy decision for me. He’s simply the best there ever has been.

        Wolfe is another easy pick at lead.

        Danny Funderburk is my all-time favorite tenor, but if he can’t go because of age and health, then Chris Allman is another easy pick.

        Bass is a tough choice for me…they are all about even. I guess I’ll take Pat because he seems to channel George on those Cathedrals’ songs.

      • Slight twiat on the theme…

        I would take Ernie/Gerald/Mark as ex-Cathedral’s and Timmy on the base.

      • Typo… “twist” 🙂

      • Yes David… I think it’s interesting that for most all of these groups, the defining member still remains the one who sang with the Cathedrals. There’s a reason why it’s the Mark Trammell Quartet or Ernie Haase & Signature Sound: Those guys can really sing!

        Timmy on bass would make me happy too, but I was trying hard to spread things out a little bit. 😉

      • You know, it’s not just because they have the name recognition – in at least some of the cases, they’re the best singer at their position, too.

      • Old G & G knew how to pick ’em, that’s certain.

      • …and perhaps even more importantly, once picked, Glen & George were masters at finding the right songs to bring out their strengths.

      • Not forgetting, if he wasn’t in the glory – with George & Glen – we would all have Roger on the piano, and that’s no disrespect to Tim.

        Another mighty pick by G&G!

      • Okay, I think Gus and Chris both have better vocal control, voices and pitch than Ernie, but Ernie has higher notes and of course years with the Cathedrals. His voice also fits the Cathedrals songs better. However, I must note that Funderburk is my favorite, but he doesn’t have the stamina or quite enough high ones perhaps anymore.

        Gerald Wolfe on lead. He isn’t the singer he was when he joined them, but he still has a quality voice and the obvious choice.

        Doug Anderson is a good vocalist for sure, but whenever Mark Trammell is in a group, he is the obvious choice. He was a good fit with Kirk’s voice when he joined, got better his time with them, and has improved significantly since. There is no contest.

        Bass is harder. Duncan has the low notes and rich tones, but is kind of stiff to me. Barker has some rich tones, but not the real low ones or cut. I would probably choose Dustin. But each of the basses have some good qualities, but none come close to Younce, Riley or Sterban. 😀 Tell you what, I choose Aaron McCune. 😉

      • Gus and Chris are both very easy to listen to. I enjoy them a lot.

        You’re funny about the basses… me, I never could see what all the fuss was about with Aaron. His voice just didn’t fit into my ear that well. Rather have Timmy. 🙂 By the way, if you have Signature Sound’s studio cut of “Plan of Salvation,” you should give Tim’s solo on that verse another listen and see if he isn’t channeling George… the resemblance is striking!

      • How do we know it isn’t you who is funny about basses? 😛 I think since you are a huge Sig Sound fan and they introduced you to the genre, most everything is seen through the eyeglasses of them. But, that might be true of a lot of us. However, I used to look at everything in comparison to the Oaks, but later found others I love (Cathedrals, Gaither Vocal Band, Gold City etc.)

        I probably have that version packed away somewhere, but couldn’t get to it now. However, I have heard people talk about how much Duncan sounded like George and I never heard it on either songs they have both done (Trying to Get A Glimpse etc.) or not.

      • The funny thing is – when I was new to the genre, I, too, thought Duncan sounded a lot like Younce. Since then, though, I have come to see less resemblance, and have come more to the opinion that he has his own distinct voice/style.

      • Actually Terry, the fact is that I have a lot of groups I like, even a lot of quartets I like, and while I can play the “breathless Sig Sound fanboy” on TV, I really do have some other groups I like. Yeah, they’re my favorite, and I have a soft spot for them, but I don’t see everything through EHSS-colored glasses. 😉

        As for Tim and George, generally I’d agree that they actually sound pretty different. But just on that one song, for a moment, the way he’s wrapping his voice around the lyric has a distinct “George” sound.

      • NSGF, thanks for the better wording on what I was trying to say (EHSS-colored glasses). A lack of sleep for a while, working 12 hours, watching TV while posting etc. had me not do a good job of what I was trying to say. 😛 Well, I made the same point, it just wasn’t pretty. 😉

        I once had a person on the Oak Ridge Boys site think that the Oaks had done “I’m Not Giving Up”. I corrected them and told them it was Gold City. They still maintained that the group sounded like the Oaks. Umm, not hardly. Even if they thought that Riley sounded like Sterban (at least there are some similarities) and Hill like Duane (maybe some similarities), Trammell like Golden (even considerably less similarities), there is no way that Parrack and Bonsall sound alike under any circumstances. 😀

      • Actually though, my VERY first exposure to quartet singing was the Imperials… except I grew up on the Russ Taff incarnation, which had a bit of a kick to it. 😀 So Armond Morales holds the “first bass” spot for me there—another fave.

        I think one reason I grooved to Signature Sound, fascinatingly enough, was because I cut my teeth on that version of the Imperials. And I know that might lead people to scratch their heads, but you go back and listen to some of the stuff from Heed the Call and see if you can’t hear what I mean. Jump over to EHSS and compare with “Do You Want to be Forgiven?” “Come Make a Place,” etc. There’s really a strong resemblance there.

      • Heed the Call is a great album. There are lots of good songs on it. I can’t recall any other “Taff or later” era album being close. They have other good material, of course, but not as much in one place. Although not on “Heed the Call”, the live version of “New Creation” is great. That live album was a great one too and it might rival “Heed the Call” in some ways, but as a live album maybe shouldn’t qualify for comparison unless it had all new material.

        Armond has a nice, mellow, silky velvet bass voice for sure. He sounds good on solos. I never found him to have enough cut to sing with the power groups I like though.

      • Ain’t it though? Bit of filler, like every album (“Let Jesus Do It For You” is pure throwaway), but other than that… I mean that one has “Praise the Lord” AND “Oh Buddha” AND “My Mind Forgets a Millions Things” AND the title track AND… etc.

        There’s also a song on there called “First Morning in Heaven” that I’ve always thought would work great as a straight-up SG quartet song. I enjoy it more than the better-known “First Day in Heaven.”

      • Yeah, I don’t care much for that song either. It definitely doesn’t measure up. “First Morning in Heaven” is good. Murray did a good job on it. Did you forget about “Trumpet of Jesus”? 🙂

        Compare that album to something like “Free the Fire” and there are many changes. The only song on that CD that I really liked was the re-make of “I Just Came To Praise the Lord”.

      • Whoops, sorry, that comment was supposed to go here.

      • Stand By the Power had one gem though, and that was “Lord of the Harvest.” Really good stuff. Somebody should cover it today—just as long as they don’t ruin it. 😉

      • You’re right on it being elsewhere. I did like some things they released later like “I Don’t Live There Anymore” “Change the World”, “Come into My Life”, “Because Of Who You Are”,

        I also looked at the album list and it isn’t as strong album in its entirety as I thought. I guess it is just that there are some really great songs on it, it appears to be a stronger one in memory than it is. Even so, it probably has more great songs on it than many or all of their other stuff starting with Taff.

      • I also like “I’d Rather Believe In You” and “One More Song For You” — nice, mellow 80s ballads. I could actually hear Wes Hampton doing a smooth performance on either one of those.

        Which one did “Bread On the Water” come from? That was a scorcher—GVB version wasn’t even close.

      • Taff was on “One More Song For You”, but great song. Another I really like is from the Side by Side album “You’re the Only Jesus”

      • That one’s awfully nice… I think I prefer the Cathedrals’ “When the World Looks at Me” along similar lines though.

        It also reminds me of the song “I Want to Be Just Like You,” originally done by Phillips Craig & Dean (still the best version, IMO).

      • I love the Cats and PCD songs too. PCD’s is the best version of the song. Shiloh had one too along similar lines called “In My Shoes”.

      • Funny enough :-), on the “Tribute” CD, I think Timmy sounds less ‘George-ish’ than on the live DVD.

        Maybe in concert he is [even subconsciously] playing to the gallery – and in studio he is just himself?

        A wee hint of the Chief even in terms of influence? or is that heretical in Cathedral mythology?

      • Timmy was channeling George on the DVD too—maybe like you said even more than on the album.

        On the live version of “This Ole House,” it seemed to me like he started off a bit stiff but loosened up as the song progressed. Maybe he was a little nervous. 😉

      • Oh, come on. Why on earth would you be nervous singing George’s signature song in front of hundreds of rabid SG fans?

      • I assume there’s a little sarcasm – unusual, for you – there? 🙂

      • Friendly sarcasm – it’s not that unusual for me, but harder to pull off online!

      • Yes – hard, indeed!

      • True Amy. 😀

        Then again, one could say the same for Devin with “We Shall See Jesus,” but Devin never strikes me as nervous… I think he has really good stage presence.

  6. Figures . . . Happy Same Old Year everybody!

    • With a little more effort on your part jim, it wouldn’t have to be “same old” as far as you’re concerned. But as you wish. 😉

      • I wish it was that simple. Would have been nice to see if anyone else had a similar opinion, but I realize this is not a discussion site. Thus, happy same old! Not my choice at all!

      • This is a *civil* discussion site.

      • Which, I might add, does not mean that “civil” is synonymous with “says what everybody else.” You could have expressed your opinion in a way that would have stayed out of Daniel’s trash can. That’s where your choice comes in.

      • [EDIT] Those of us who were around for the days where competition and honest opinion made the music better, and where inferior music was not permitted for very long are longing for a trip back way to the future!

        So, who is making a bad choice?

      • Why don’t you ask some industry executives/fellow artists for their honest opinion and see if they agree with you?

        I think that if every group you named really were to disappear completely from the genre (as you seem to want), they would be missed, and not just by me.

      • By the way jim, if you had ever seen me demolish something—and I mean really, truly pan it, you would know that it’s not a pretty sight.

        I didn’t approach this particular project planning to give it a great rating from the get-go, although from what I heard after listening around, things were sounding/looking good, so I had an idea of what was coming.

        In all honesty, there’s a small handful of songs on here that I could do without and that pretty regularly have me reaching for the skip button. But out of 21, that ain’t so bad.

        Bottom line is, I don’t hand out special favors. This just is a good piece of work.

      • But I didn’t name any groups . . .

      • Maybe not specifically, but the phrase you used to categorize them made it pretty obvious which groups you meant.

  7. Great review! I was reliving that night with every song in your review. So happy that I got to witness this taping live. This is an awesome Tribte. The Cathedrals were the best & so is EHSSQ.

    • What an honor to have someone drop by who was actually there! Thanks for the kind words.

      • Well, I was there, too… 🙂

      • I already knew that. This was somebody on the outside looking in. 😉

  8. “This song is generally placed at the end of Signature Sound concerts and videos, so the fact that it was placed fairly early in the program this time was a clue of what was coming later!”

    At most Cathedrals concerts that I went to, “Oh What A Savior” came in the first half of the program.

    • Yes, and that was mentioned at the time too.

    • By the way, while we’re debating the relative merits of Ernie’s performances of this song, let’s not forget this one, from Live in Indiana:

      Also notable is Timmy’s F#1 at the end.

  9. sorry new so go. I guess we will have to speak somewhere else. I have been cut off.

    • No problem. I don’t know if I would have cut you off just there, but whatever… ’tis Daniel’s den. 😉

    • Jim,

      Enough artists read this site that I err on the side of caution. While the truth can be spoken, it needs to be spoken in love and in a constructive way – and sometimes, depending on what it may be, it needs to be taken directly to artists. Not everything – even if true – needs to be aired in a public forum.

      You are welcome to participate here, if you keep your comments positive and constructive.


      • Well, I guess “spoken in love” is an interesting criteria. My dad said lots of things that were not spoken in love, but communicated perfectly. He said what he said because he loved me. Not because he said he loved me. I am a true lover of “Southern Gospel” music, and it pains me to see it as it is today , just like it pains the parent(of a child making the same mistakes over and over) to the point of saying edgy, attention-getting words to try to make it BETTER! Looking back, I wish he were still around to help me that way today.

      • Well, interesting criteria or not, it is the criteria here.

        Of course, you are more than welcome to start your own site with your own criteria, and to comment on other websites with other criteria. You are also more than welcome to stay around here, if you’re willing to abide by the criteria I outlined.

        Thanks! 🙂

      • Ephesians 4:1-3

        1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
        2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
        3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

        Verse 15:
        15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

        And verses 29-32
        29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
        30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
        31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
        32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

      • Thank you for pulling out the reference I was alluding to, Brian! With your permission, I think I’m just going to put that on the “about” page as our comment policy!

      • Hey, I didn’t write it, lol. So you don’t need my permission. I think Ephesians 4:28 should be the comment policy for any website, particularly one that is focused on some realm of Christianity.

      • Ephesians 4:29 I should have said.

      • Thanks! That is what I figured you’d say, but I figured it was better to ask anyhow!

      • Great quote Brian!

        I notice that Chp 1:3 is quoted direct from the original as:

        “…keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace” –

        So, the Spirit influences us towards Christian unity, but, a peaceful bond also unites us.

        If “unity” and “peace” are our boundaries, or the filters on our comments – we won’t go too far wrong in 2011.

      • I don’t think Jesus quoted that scripture when He cleaned out the temple where unacceptable and miserable things were happening, but I appreciate the “spoken in love” preaching and the holier than thou attitude. It is a lot better to quote scripture to me rather than giving an honest opinion.

        Thanks for the invitation to stay Daniel, but, alas, methinks this will be farewell. Be honest now, and say “good riddance.”

      • Jim, don’t you think it’s just a wee bit of an exaggeration to compare the world of Southern Gospel music to a temple of money-lenders where “unacceptable and miserable” things are happening?

        Your honest opinion is that too many groups out there today are covering old songs and not doing enough stuff of their own. You’d like things to freshen up, so this is a source of concern for you.

        There, see how I just said that? Now if you had put it that way, I don’t think we’d have had an issue.

        Once again, it’s not what you say—it’s how you say it.

        By the way, is it just me, or do people who accuse others of “holier-than-thou” attitudes end up taking on a sort of “holier-than-thou” feel of their own…?

      • Jim,

        You want my honest opinion, so here it is. My honest opinion is that this Scripture is true and we’d be doing well to stick by it.

        NSF – I’ve noticed the same thing.

      • “It is a lot better to quote scripture to me rather than giving an honest opinion.”

        Truer words have never been posted here. It doesn’t matter in the least what my or your opinion is…only what God’s opinion is.

  10. In a word, wow! I feel so loved!

    • If you want people to like you, try being a little less prickly… I’m just giving you a bit of common sense advice here. I’m not gonna quote Scripture at you, but just in terms of “life skills,” a little tact goes a long way.


      :shrugs shoulders:

  11. I never used any words as harsh as PRICKLY, and I never said anything about a person, just groups and song selection. So Brian, David Mac, New SoGo, and of course, Daniel, may God bless you all!

    • Honestly, I didn’t think you were personally nasty, and so if it were up to me, I wouldn’t kick you off. All I was saying was that the way you worded some things came off a bit harsh. That’s all.