3:1 CD Review: A Living Legacy: The Songs of Squire Parsons

A Living Legacy: The Songs of Squire Parsons3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

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.

Credits

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).


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39 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. Do want, very much.

    Squire is in my “Fab Four” of southern gospel songwriters. If I made a personal Mt. Rushmore, it would be Wilkinson, Parsons, Griffin, Rowland.

    • Totally agree with that!

  2. I’m completely with you Daniel. Overall, its a great recording, and I love the new recordings. I was really disappointed that Gold City, BFA, or L5 could not have done the same thing the Kingsmen & Kingdom Heirs did and put new vocals on their songs they contributed.

    Be that as it may, everyone should pick this up. The MTQ and Karen Peck songs are awesome, and I loved Arthur Rice & Jim joining Greater Vision on I Stand Amazed as well.

    • There is always the possibility that they could not access the original tracks. Of course, it could have just been deadline/time or interest level, too.

  3. “In fact, they sound as good backing Karen up as Karen’s group, New River, does—no small feet.” I’m not sure what their shoe size has to do with anything. 😉 I think you meant feat. LOL 😀

    • Funny thing is, about 30 seconds before you commented, Wes Burke emailed me. I told him I’d fix it, and just did, but I also suggested he come here and say what he said by email. As I said, it’s just too funny to be embarrassing!

      • Well, you have been good-natured when we have ribbed you before, so it never even occurred to me to contact you privately instead of giving you a hard time publicly. 😀 Maybe Wes is more discrete than I. 🙂

      • Not to worry! It’s hard to offend me!

        I didn’t say impossible; an occasional commenter here / past frequent commenter figured out how, by calling my doctrinal beliefs and worldview absurd and other derogatory terms. That kind of thing might bother me, but catching a grammatical mistake sure won’t! 🙂

      • “Not to worry! It’s hard to offend me!”

        Is that a challenge? 😉

      • Well, you’d pretty much have to do it on purpose, so take that however you like. 🙂

        And even if you were doing it on purpose, most intentional insults roll off my back pretty smoothly. You’d have to either try pretty hard or stumble across just the right (wrong) area to offer intentional insults! 🙂

  4. Q-man, great minds, that sort of thing. I simply am curious how Daniel happens to know all of their shoe sizes in the first place! 🙂

    • Great question, but Q-man beet you to it. 🙂

      • Beet me to it? What are you hungry now? 😉

      • No, I’m just harvesting cyber-beets to thrash you with—umm, I mean, toss your way for breakfast. 🙂

        More seriously, beet/beat was just a play on feet/feat! 🙂

      • The thought did occur to me that you were doing just that, but I couldn’t be sure. 🙂

      • Just that being the cyber-thrashing, the tossing beets your way, or the play on spelling? 🙂

      • This just gets better all of the time! :DD

      • Yes, sir! 🙂

    • You’d best be careful, Wes. There are those who would think having a mind that works like mine isn’t a good thing. 😀

  5. Does anyone have a recent update on Squire’s health? When I saw him at NQC (via webcast) it ‘looked’ like his eyes had been adversely affected. Just curious, and praying that God gives him a healing.

    I have been a HUGE Squire fan ever since the Kingsmen Chattanooga LIVE LP album. What an awesome guy!

    • I believe he is still undergoing treatments, but I have not heard anything recently.

  6. I was also curious about something. . .

    When a recording is done such as this, who gets the profits? Do all the artists who contributed get a portion, all Jim, or maybe even as a benefit to assist Squire with medical expenses? No biggie, just wondered. I do want the recording. Wonder if it will be on iTunes?

    • This may be different from others; I believe that all artists contributed their time and efforts, and that all proceeds (with the possible exception of duplication costs – don’t know on that one) are going to assist Squire with medical expenses. As if you didn’t need another reason to get this!

      Note that I said “review copy not provided.” 🙂 Sure, Jim would probably have been happy to send one over for a review here, but I bought it from Squire’s table at NQC for that very reason.

  7. In regards to the recording I did pick it up, but haven’t listened yet. I have mixed feelings on reusing old tracks. On one hand if they are good, definitive versions it makes sense. On the other, for those of us who have the originals and for the dated sound the old cuts might have, new ones would have been preferable. However, with 18 cuts, and the fact it helps Squire, I would say this CD sounds like a very good deal.

    • Suppose they were only a few years ago and didn’t sound dated; that would be a different story. But, compared to songs recorded / mixed / mastered with the latest recording techniques, some of the older ones sound very out of place.

  8. Karen’s tones are like crystal bells, and she is a dream to blend with, since she exhibits so much control over her voice. I’d be interested in knowing what attributes of the soprano voice have brought you to your conclusion. Does it have anything to do with vibrato?

    • No; while certain rich alto voices (Lily Weatherford, Libbi Perry Stuffle) are well-suited for blending with male voices in such a way as to result in one perfectly balanced harmonic unit, soprano’s voices have a timbre that makes it far more challenging for bass/baritone/lead voices to blend with and result in one perfectly balanced harmonic unit. Of course, if you’re going for an each-voice-distinct-and-contrasting sound (e.g. classic Gold City or Kingsmen), that’s not an issue.

      • That’s true. Altos like Weatherford and Stuffle can function as tenors when singing atop male harmony. I can see how it might not be as cohesive a unit if Karen were paired with two male voices, whereas in this case Melissa’s voice bridges the gap between the soprano and tenor. If I may contrast, on The Nelons’ A New Generation CD (three males, one female), Kelly Nelon’s alto voice functioned more as a soprano than as a tenor, and though Jerry Thompson’s soaring tenor lines crept well into the alto range, the end result was dissimilar to the unit created when Karen was on board.

      • Yes; I think you understand exactly what I’m saying now. My comment was in no way a reflection on Karen’s prodigious vocal ability; it was timbre-specific.

  9. As I read that portion of the review, the first image that popped into my mind was that of your voice teacher perhaps belting out Le Violette as you attempt to create a harmony part on the fly. That’s why I was curious!

    • I’d have a far easier time harmonizing with Karen, that’s for sure! 🙂

  10. This CD is on my Top 5 must-haves list.

    (By the way, I believe Glenn Dustin’s is spelled with two N’s. 🙂

    • *name

    • True, and I’ll fix it, though I will also note that it’s worth observing that it is presently misspelled on Legacy Five’s home page. 🙂

  11. Does Squire have a medical condition?

    • Yes, a form of cancer – a kind of leukemia, I seem to think.

  12. That’s too bad. 🙁 My grandpa died with cancer.

  13. Back in the late fifties went with parents to Ellis in Memphis for the seventy-two hour sing fest. No way you cannot get hooked on southern gospel after attending an event such as that. A group we met on the road in the early nineties known as The Sound from Houston with Scott Fowler and Frank Seamons. Of course we know what that led to. A song titled Up In Chicago the group sang. I cannot find it anywhere.

  14. Just to let everyone know, Squire does have leukemia, I believe he in fact has the exact same condition that Roger Bennett had. It was caught in its early stages, do to him coming down with pneumonia. I heard Squire two weeks ago, and he sounded phenominal, and said he was feeling well. He is still undergoing treatments, and I’m sure he would desire your prayers.