3:1 CD Review: A Living Legacy: The Songs of Squire Parsons
1. Concept: In the last few years, Jim Brady has cemented a position as one of the genre’s strongest writers. His songwriting hero is Squire Parsons, and he made this as a tribute to him. Over the last year, Squire has been fighting cancer, and this is a heartwarmingly magnificent example of the genre coming together to recognize one of its finest while he can still smell the roses.
2. “I Call it Home”: Karen Peck delivered a magnificent rendition of this Squire classic. Jim and Melissa Brady completed the trio harmonies. It’s genuinely a hard thing to blend with a first soprano, but Jim and Melissa pull it off with class and perfection. In fact, they sound as good backing Karen up as Karen’s group, New River, does—no small feat.
3. “I Sing Because”: The Mark Trammell Quartet offers this standout rendition. Mark Trammell has the solo—and, astonishingly, carries it all the way through. From the Kingsmen on, it has been standard practice to hand the high chorus to a tenor singer. But Mark hits the highest recorded notes of his career, singing all the way to a C5 (C above middle C) by the end. This is also notable for being Joel Wood’s final recorded performance with the group.
4 (bonus). “I’ve Got a Reservation”: This features an all-star quartet of Chris Allman, Jim Brady, Mark Trammell, and Glenn Dustin, with Glenn on the solo. It’s as strong as you would expect from a quartet with this level of vocal talent!
5 (bonus). “The Broken Rose”: Ivan Parker turns in a new rendition so strong that it will stand as a highlight, even in this august company. Even if you’re not a fan of Ivan’s typical style, give this one a chance. You won’t be sorry.
6 (bonus). New vocals for Kingsmen, Kingdom Heirs: Rather than simply pulling a track from an old recording, the Kingsmen and Kingdom Heirs both went to the time and trouble to record new vocals with their current vocal configurations.
:1. One thing I would change: Songs pulled from previous recordings: This point must be made in a nuanced fashion, since it’s easily understandable why Jim Brady chose the route he went. There are eight new songs, and two more (mentioned in #6) with new vocals. But the remaining eight are pulled from old projects. Among the most notable are the Booth Brothers’ Song of the Year-winning “Look for Me at Jesus’ Feet,” Brian Free & Assurance’s “The Greatest of All Miracles,” and Gold City’s two songs. Gold City’s are the oldest, from 1992 and 1995; mixing and mastering techniques are so different now that it’s obvious on a casual listen that they are from twenty years ago.
Now, the nuanced point: If Jim Brady wanted to produce a five-star recording, he should have released the ten tracks that are all-new or have new vocals. But, understandably, that wasn’t the point here. He wanted to involve as many groups as possible. So it’s completely understandable why he went the route he did.
Even if there may be a few tracks you skip—a decent chance, with eighteen tracks!—there are so many strong performances on this CD that it is a must-purchase for fans of any of the participating groups.
Traditional or Progressive
Largely traditional to middle of the road.
Album Rating: 4.5 stars.
Producer: Jim Brady. • Review copy not provided. • Song list: He Came to Me (Booth Brothers); I Go to the Rock (Legacy Five); The Greatest of All Miracles (Brian Free & Assurance); I Call it Home (Karen Peck, Jim and Melissa Brady); I’m Not Giving Up (Gold City); The Broken Rose (Ivan Parker); I’ve Got a Reservation (Glen Dustin, Mark Trammell, Jim Brady, Chris Allman); I Sing Because (Mark Trammell Quartet); I Know the Lord (Triumphant Quartet); Hello Mama (Jim Brady); Master of the Sea (Whisnants); You’re Not Alone (Kingsmen); Always In My Hand (Debra Talley); Ever Since That Wonderful Day (Kingdom Heirs); Look For Me at Jesus’ Feet (Booth Brothers); I Stand Amazed (Arthur Rice, Jim Brady, Greater Vision); If God Be For Us (Gold City); Sweet Beulah Land (all artists).
For more about Brian Free and Assurance and Gold City and Ivan Parker and Karen Peck and New River and Legacy Five and the Booth Brothers and the Kingdom Heirs and the Kingsmen and the Mark Trammell Quartet and the Talleys and the Whisnants and Triumphant Quartet—and other Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!