3:1 CD Review: A Wonderful Life (Legacy Five)

A Wonderful Life (Legacy Five)3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1. “Destination Known”: The song doesn’t try to be epic. It doesn’t try to get the hankies waving. It doesn’t try to get the grannies wiping tears away. But in its own quiet way, this Scott Howard feature is the best song on the project. It stands head and shoulders above the rest, much like Howard himself does on the album cover (which somehow makes Glenn Dustin look short.)

2. “For What Earthly Reason” and “Just Because of You”: The Cathedrals cut both in the 1980s (“For What Earthly Reason” in 1987 on Symphony of Praise and “Just Because of You” on Master Builder in 1986). Both originally featured Danny Funderburk; “For What Earthly Reason” is generally acknowledged as his finest performance on a mellow song. So it would take a world-class talent and a production quality on par with Symphony of Praise to top his rendition. Although Gus Gaches’ rendition doesn’t top the original, it probably comes closer than any other rendition. On “Just Because of You,” though, the renditions are so comparable that your pick will probably depend on which tenor voice you prefer. 

3. Group Blend: Legacy Five has never had a particularly tight blend. Their tenors have had huge, show-stopper voices. Bass singer Glenn Dustin can rattle the subwoofers with the best of them. Yet here, members stay within their voice’s ideal ranges enough to make this the group’s tightest blend to date.

:1. One thing I would change: Taking more time in Song Selection: Two of the project’s three strongest songs are Cathedrals covers.

Traditional or Progressive: Middle-of-the-road, with several songs that lean progressive.

Radio Single Picks: “Destination Known,” “Just Because of You.”

Credits: Producer: Steve Mauldin. • Group members: Gus Gaches (tenor), Scott Fowler (lead), Scott Howard (baritone), Glenn Dustin (bass), Trey Ivey (pianist). • Review copy not provided, originally, though one was provided after the first one was purchased. (Just checking to see if anyone actually reads this section!) • Song list: A Wonderful Life; God Had a Hand in It; Ask Me Why; Nobody Ever Loved Me Like God Does; There’s Only One Well; Just Because of You; God Cares for Me; Living in the Palace; Destination Known; I’m Still Amazed; For What Earthly Reason; God is Still in America.

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27 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. Wow. Legacy Five does not have good blend? Not sure what you want. I am amazed at some of the groups you praise. Have you not heard them sing In His Grip, Vessel of Mercy, Til We Meet Again, Id Like To Say it Again ,Search Me O GOD, A Wonderful Life? In my opinion ( you are entitled to yours ) their blend is excellent. As for rerecording two Cathedrals songs, groups do this all the time. How long should they wait? Those were two great songs recorded over 20 years ago and I think they do a great job. Not to mention if anybody has the right to rerecord a Cathedrals song it would be a long standing former member. Just my opinion. Michael Behunin

    • You’re missing my point; there is a difference between a good blend and a tight blend. My point is that their blend here is their tightest to date, and I’m not the only reviewer who has said that.

      Certain groups, like Paid in Full, the Booth Brothers, the 1970s Cathedrals, the 1950s/60s Weatherfords, and the Ball Brothers aim for incredibly tight harmonies. Other groups, like the 1970s/80s/90s Kingsmen, late 1980s Cathedrals, and Gold City have aimed for four-distinct/diverse-voice power harmonies. I love to listen to both. I’m not saying that one is better than the other. I’m just noting the transition.

    • Although they don’t have the big sound as the Oak Ridge Boys and Kingsmen (with Hamill) and have better blend probably, Legacy Five is closer to them and their power harmony than a group like the early Cathedrals during some of their runs or Imperials of the early seventies and their blend. They sort of split the difference between great blend and power harmony. Also, Legacy Five (like the Oaks) have different types of voices within the group. That automatically makes blending harder at times, but gives texture to the sound and variety for different members to have different types of leads.

      • I think it could be fairly said that, especially now, L5 splits the difference between Kingsmen/GC style blends and tight Cathedrals/Weatherfords style blends.

  2. I always read the end section of your reviews – mainly to see what and how many songs are on the recording.

    • I’m glad it’s useful to someone! 🙂

  3. Good review, Daniel. An accurate one IMO. I agree as well, about the blend.

    I noticed that the suits all 5 are wearing are the exact same ones they wore on their latest DVD “California Live.” Perhaps they had the photo shots taken the same day. Earthshaking, I know! 🙂

    • Interesting observation! In these economic times, it makes sense for groups to save money on photo shoots where they can. In fact, since groups often bring multiple sets of clothes to photo shoots, use of photos from the same shoot in multiple venues happens a little more often than the fans might realize. 🙂

  4. I read it all. 🙂 I think I also got your points. Wish I had this cd.

    • I do wish I was a good enough writer that you would know you had understood my points! 🙂

  5. “Ask Me Why” was my favorite song on this CD from the moment I first heard it. As mentioned before in my comments, my wife is no fan of SG; yet she loved this song and their performance of it. “Ask Me Why” is getting satellite radio play so I assumed they had singled it. I predict this song will be sung for many years by L5…

    “Living in the Palace” is definitely a concert favorite. The one will earn praise eventually. This is the type song the Kingsmen of Hamill’s era could have brought the house down with…

    L5 is not necessarily my favorite group, but there is no other group I enjoy more in concert. They enertain well, their ministry is spot on – and the mix of music, speaking and comedy is as perfect as you can find. I would love for Howie to emcee some – but this is a great quartet. An evening with the Jubilee gang – L5, Booth Brothers & Greater Vision is a perfect evening and the best $ you can spend for live SG…


  6. Daniel, would you count this as one of L5’s best albums? (in the top 5 or so) I read one blogger who said this, but I’m not sure I agree with that.

    • No, I wouldn’t.

      But now that I have gone out on a limb by answering your question directly, instead of being a politician and bouncing around the answer, please don’t cut that limb off before I can explain myself. 🙂

      The reason I wouldn’t rank it top 5 is NOT that it’s a terrible CD, or anything like that. It’s just that there happen to be five others I would rank higher, namely, (#1) Just Stand, (#2) Strong in the Strength, (#3) Live in Music City, (#4) London, and (#5) Monuments. And I suspect that, at least a few years down the road, when L5 fans don’t feel any pressure to put this on a top 5 list because it’s the latest, the five I named will be more likely top make their top 5 lists as well, because those 5 are just all-around top-notch CDs. 🙂

      • I agree. 🙂 Just Stand is probably my favorite as well.

  7. I particulaly love this cd, Living in the palace, Destination known are two of my favouriate! Legacy Five arent just a fantastic quartet, but they are 5 men of God who dont just perform very very highly but they minister! There is too many groups and solo performers who sadly are just in it for the money and that is sad! Thankfully there are sincere groups like Legacy Five, Greater Vision Booth Brothers who want to minister for our Saviour! Theyy are great role models for singers, and i look up to them and hope that i make sure when i stand on a platform its not for my glory but Gods!

  8. Legacy Five is my favorite group so I loved this CD! My favorite songs were A Wonderful Life, Ask Me Why and I’m Still Amazed.

    • What did you think of “Destination Known”?

  9. I thought Destination Known was awesome! I should have included that song on my favorite’s list too!

    • OK, neat! Since I thought it was the best new song on the CD, I was wondering if it would have made your list.

  10. This might become Scott Howard’s new signature song.

    • I agree. I watched Legacy Five’s live concert streamed online last weekend (posting about it here: https://www.southerngospeljournal.com/archives/14877) Of all the new songs, “Ask Me Why” got the strongest response, but I think that the story Scott tells to set it up is so strong that he could sing ANY song after that story and get a standing ovation! 🙂

      Anyhow, of all the new songs, “Destination Known” definitely got the next strongest response.”

      • Speaking of L5 and streaming – The L5 DVD that I referenced the other day was also streamed live. . . I watched it. It kind of surprised me that it was live streamed being they were going to make a DVD of it. (California Live)

        In fact, the congregation didn’t know it was being recorded for a DVD until Scott Fowler’s closing remarks at the end of the concert.

      • I’m not entirely surprised. Fans still want DVDs, but doing it right can be prohibitively expensive. But if you’re going to be at a church which has all the equipment already in place, and is streaming it online, there’s a chance you can get permission to use the footage for a very small fee—or, if you’re enterprising, trade the appearance for the rights to use the footage, and pay for the trip with other dates. 🙂

  11. Thanks.That is awesome that they streamed it live! That must have been fun! It must have been a great story to go with that song because Ask Me Why does have great lyrics especially the chorus! Scott does an awesome job singing that one! He might also have a new signature song!

  12. Great review Daniel. regarding your top five L5 CD’s I would put this CD at 5 over “Monuments”. Though they could be considered very close IMO. I felt at first listen that this was one of their best. As far as “Destination Known” I actually would put that song as not even in my top five favorites from this CD, I still really like the song though!

    • Let me flip my question around backwards: Why would you rank Monuments below this one? 🙂

  13. Well for various reasons, I felt the vocals and production were slightly better; but “Just Because Of You” and “For What Earthly Reason” give “A Wonderful Life” the edge IMO. Those two songs are probably stronger than most of the songs on “Monuments” and then you throw in “Ask Me Why” (which I feel is VERY strong song) along with “Destination Known” “Living In The Palace”and it is just a better CD overall. Once again that is just my opinion… I ask you good sir why do you put “Monuments” over this one?