CD Review: Somebody’s Coming (Gold City)

Somebody's Coming (Gold City)It has been three years and four months since Gold City released their last mainline CD, Moment of Truth (reviewed here). In the last three years, they have had five tenors (Steve Ladd, Chris Cooper, Josh Cobb, Brent Mitchell, Dan Keeton), three lead singers (Bruce Taliaferro, Craig West, Jerry Pelfrey), two or three bass singers (Aaron McCune, Chris West, and Tim Riley), and three pianists (Josh Simpson, Roy Webb, and Bryan Elliott). This leaves baritone Daniel Riley as the only current member who was also on Moment of Truth. To sum up the last three years in a word: Tumultuous.

Work on this CD started last summer. It was originally scheduled to release at or shortly after the 2010 National Quartet Convention. But each of the six or seven personnel changes since then have delayed the release farther. This lineup has stayed together for long enough that, despite a last-minute change at the lead singer position, the album is finally out. Though the official release date is November 15th, it was released digitally on iTunes yesterday morning.

Somebody’s Coming is just what the doctor ordered. After over three years of staging largely the same songs, the group needed strong new songs every bit as much as they needed a stable lineup. This CD offers quite a few. 

Fans of their last two mainline CDs (Gold City’s most progressive two to date) will like “Somebody’s Coming” and “Lord of Life.” But even if “When Jesus Saves” wasn’t your cup of tea, both of these are good enough songs that you just might find yourself tapping your toes anyhow.

There is also plenty for fans of classic Gold City lineups to like. Heading that list is new lead singer Jerry Pelfrey, who has earned comparisons to a young Ivan Parker. Tim Riley, meanwhile, is among the greatest Southern Gospel legends on the road today; he’s turned loose on “I Get Down.”

Danny Riley, meanwhile, turns in exceptionally strong performances on two of the project’s strongest songs, “Peter, James, and John” and “Footprints on the Water.” The former is the first radio single, and the latter needs to go to radio. (On “Footprints on the Water,” check out the story behind the song from co-writers Joseph Habedank, in this interview, and Dianne Wilkinson, here.)

Tenor Dan Keeton’s sole feature is “Leave That Burden.” Don’t approach that song thinking Brian Free, Jay Parrack, Steve Ladd, or Josh Cobb. The performance brings a Michael Booth voice timbre to mind; even though the arrangement doesn’t scream “Gold City,” it’s a pleasantly mellow song.

Gold City chose the right song order. The four opening tracks are among the most likely to appeal to fans of classic lineups, while the closer is a fifth. Songs 5-8, meanwhile, are the most adventurous—but by this point, they have already won over earlier fans.

If Somebody’s Coming had been released by the lineup that started the project—Josh Cobb, Bruce Taliaferro, Danny Riley, Tim Riley, and Roy Webb—it would probably have been a five-star project. (Of course, it would have had one more incredibly strong song, Josh Cobb’s reinvention of his signature song, “I Stand Redeemed,” helping to boost the rating.) With one or two exceptions, the songs on this project were selected for that lineup, not the current lineup. That said, this lineup turns in a solid 4.5 star performance here. They prove here that they have the potential to turn in a five-star performance on material selected for their voices.

Somebody’s Coming isn’t the best CD Gold City has ever released. But it’s in the top ten. 

Traditional or Progressive

Middle-of-the-road with some tracks leaning country or progressive

Radio Single Picks

“Peter, James and John,” “Footprints on the Water”

Album Rating: 4.5 stars

Credits

Group members: Dan Keeton, Jerry Pelfrey, Danny Riley, Tim Riley, Bryan Elliott. • Review copy not provided.  • Song list: Peter, James, and John; I Get Down; Footprints on the Water; It Won’t Be Long; Showers of Blessings; Lord of Life; Somebody’s Coming; Leave that Burden; I Have an Anchor; Never Too Broken to Belong.


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46 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. Looking forward to hearing this one. I have always enjoyed Gold City. I hope they can keep this line-up going. Hey Daniel, I think they deserve .5 for the cover. it looks like a classic cover, not what has been the norm for the last several years. Pretty Cool!

    • I did contemplate a four-star review at one point – during the string of weaker songs, roughly 5-8. (That is to say, they were 3/3.5/4 star songs – there wasn’t a two-star song on the project!) But the cover was one factor that helped me go with a 4.5 star over a 4. 🙂

  2. I have not listened to it yet (I did buy it yesterday), but we can all say that this is the best new music they’ve released in a number of years. So that’s a big deal, no matter what the songs are like. 🙂

    Without listening to any of it, I suspect I’ll line up with you on the likes and dislikes. Except the part about it being in the top 10 of their albums. Let’s not get too carried away here. I have 10 of their albums in my top 25 of all time (wait and see). 🙂

    • Well, we’ll have to see what long-term impact it has before we know for certain. If, for example, this lineup stabilizes the rest of the group enough that Tim Riley feels comfortable in returning to retirement, and it’s TIm’s final mainline, it will have significance in that regard.

      If, on the other hand, this recording propels this lineup back to mega-group status, and the lineup holds together for several years, that could also earn it top ten status.

      But, more than anything else, we’ll have to see if any of the songs stick, and if they hit signature song status.

  3. Daniel is this the record that Michael English produced?

    • Yes, though I don’t know if he had a hand in it through the very end, with every new remake with the new vocalists.

  4. I was just thinking, is there such a thing as a comeback album for a “Southern Gospel” artist. i can’t think of a group that fell off the face of the Earth, so to speak, and then had what would be considred as a come back album. Any thoughts?

    • Good question. I think the case could be made that the Cathedrals were considered high-turnover in 1979, and Something Special in 1982 helped change that perception. Also, after a good run in the 60s, they officially were high-turnover in the early ’70s, and “Welcome To Our World” (1972) was a small first step back (featuring “Yesterday”) – followed by a huge step back with “The Last Sunday” (1973). Then, “Our Statue of Liberty” (1974) pretty much cemented their place in the industry for the ’70s.

  5. Funny title.

    • Oh, my! I burst out laughing when I saw that! Trust it to our Singing News Tidbits columnists to come up with the unintended meaning… 🙂

  6. Just thought of this. It must be a little of a bummer for the ones who were with GC (even if it was a short time) that no album was released to record that part of GC’s history. But, I guess there is YouTube..

    Just thinking down the road a few years….”grandpa? you were really with Gold City?” LOL

    Keep up the good work and I hope this lineup remains in place for a long time. I like their sound.

    Blessings!

    • Scott, actually all the guys during the “transition” are on a recording except Brent Mitchell. Chris Cooper was on the NQC 2009 edition of Cast Your Bread Upon the Water with Bruce, Dan, and Tim. Then Josh Cobb and Bruce were on the Collection of Favorites cd released in 2010. Dan Keeton and Chris West are on the re-release of the Collection of Favorites cd that was done earlier this year. So only Brent would be stuck in that situation.

      • Close, it was CRAIG West who was on the re-release. You are right about the others. I mentioned that somewhere, but I don’t think here. (Well other than the NQC thing which I was not aware of offhand).

      • As a big fan of Brent, I’m very glad that I have a couple of “bootleg” recordings with Brent (and Chris West) so I have something to remember the line up by.

      • I thought I had remembered seeing something about Chris West singing bass on at least one track. Was that re-recorded or was it a new song that just got cut from the final product?

      • Chris was originally recorded on “I Have An Anchor”. It was re-recorded with Tim.

  7. So…it must have been pretty good to get a full review. 🙂

    • 3:1 reviews are full reviews, too, just in a more succinct fashion. 🙂

      The format didn’t work for this CD, because there was so much in the way of background and implications that needed to come into the discussion, and that doesn’t fit nicely into 3:1.

  8. Chris West never held the position of bass singer for Gold City. He worked as the soundman. Chris did fill in for Tim while he had bronchitis.
    Also, Tim did speak of retiring again and leaving the bass part to Chris, which is why Chris was invited up on stage during concerts to sing a song or two.

    • Dave – you’re right in that Chris was never the official bass singer, but the group made it rather clear that he was the understudy, being groomed to replace Tim.

      • You are correct. You simply restated what I just said. I would know this because Chris made that rather clear to me on the phone. I was simply correcting you because you said Gold City has had two or three bass singers, when in reality, they have only had two. And before you say it, yes I am correct about this.

      • The situation was as you and I both describe, but I do think I was being as accurate as possible in saying two or three. Here’s why: Chris was, after all, a bass singer—and a good one—who toured with them, sang a portion of the program on stage each night, and was understudy to replace Tim. He was good enough to pick up quite a few fans along the way. Supposing I’d only said “two bass singers”—it’s quite as likely that I would have gotten posts that I was ignoring the contributions Chris made to the group. (Now do you see why I had to be vague? 🙂 )

      • Oh, I understand now. Sorry I made such a big deal about it. This is a very well-written review by the way, I just got stumbled up on the bass singer thing. Now that you’ve explained it to me, I suppose you handled that the best way you could. Again, I do apologize.

      • Not a problem! Apology accepted! It didn’t really bother me; I figured that as soon as I explained, you wouldn’t mind.

      • I still mind. 😉

  9. I really love this album…it’s one of the best ones in a long time..hope this line up will stay together for a long,long while.
    Tim is absolutely the legend among bass-singers today..what a voice! I can hear the English factor on this album. Don’t know if Michael was responsable for all of the production..but his ‘mark’ is evident on this album!

  10. Since Chris West has not been with GC for several months, is he no longer being considered as an understudy for Tim?

  11. Ive heard the album and it is great. It sounds to me that West is still on all the chorus except the ones the new guy has a solo on?? or am i hearing things

    • There has been some discussion on that point. We don’t know.

      • Jerry only cut vocals for four songs, his three features and “I Get Down.” Criag’s vocal is on the other six tracks.

      • Brandon – not that I’m questioning your ear, by any stretch, but since there has been some question on the point: Did you hear that from a group member?

      • I heard that from the person who would know better than anyone… Jerry himself. LOL

      • Thanks! That settles it, then! 🙂

    • I don’t know about the choruses, but it sounds like Craig gets an entire, prominent solo on “Footprints On The Water,” unless I’m just hearing things.

      • Wes Burke and I have had some extensive email discussions on that. Danny carries the first part of the tune; I have some external confirmation on that. Neither he nor I is completely sure if it’s Craig on the last part, or if Danny is channeling his inner Michael English.

      • I knew Danny had the first part of it; it’s towards the final chorus that had me wondering.

        If that’s Danny, then he just blew me away. I knew he was a great singer with a great range, but that’s a pretty impressive upper register if that’s him!

        I guess if all else fails, we can just wait for Kyle’s inevitable “Recording Oddities” entry on this CD! 🙂

      • I have to agree… it has to be Craig. I can’t believe they would let it be released this way, but it sure sounds good, especially the “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh there were footprints….” towards the end….

      • If they released it that way it is likely to get it released right away. People (including me to some degree) have complained for a long time in the delays (even though they really couldn’t be helped as far as I know). Had they waited and re-recorded everything (or changed songs again) many would have been even more upset.

        On Duane Allen’s first album with the Oak Ridge Boys part of the album has his predecessor, Smitty Gatlin and then Allen finished it. On the first Oak’s album with Joe Bonsall, he re-cut his predecessor, Willie Wynn’s leads, but Willie was left on at least some of the group sections. Back then it happened more often, but I could tell some more recent ones, but do not have the time.

  12. Thanks Daniel. I guess what I’m asking is… I ordered it at lifeway and they said it would be here november 15. That was two weeks ago. I saw on the provident website that release date was november 22 and amazon said novemver 29. Please help. Thanks

    What day should it be at lifeway. They originally said novemeber 15

    • Provident says November 22. I think that’s correct.

  13. I have to admit… after reading this review I went to iTunes and immediately bought the download. I was VERY disappointed. I am one of the biggest GC fans ever, and Tim Riley’s biggest fan. I couldn’t believe you gave this 4 1/2 stars. I listened two or three times at work on my work computer.

    I WAS disappointed until I took the files and copied them onto my MP3 player and listened to them on something besides a TERRIBLE set of computer speakers and WOW! This album is excellent!! I am a sound-man and I know speakers make a difference, but I guess I didn’t realize how they could affect how much I would recommend an album!! With my headphones plugged in I was BLOWN away…. Lord of Life is unbelieveable! Tim NAILS those last few notes. Actually he nails EVERYTHING on this album.

    SO moral of the story, don’t judge an album by $19.99 speakers plugged into your PC/laptop/ipad/ etc…. get a nice set of headphones and crank it up! 🙂

    • Almost any time I’m listening to music, it’s at my computer. So a couple of years ago, I splurged with $80 or so on a set of Bose computer speakers from Best Buy. It’s probably the best $80 I’ve ever spent on a piece of technology—it made all the difference!

  14. I just mentioned that cause the sound is totally different on all the other songs than the ones the new lead singer is on. And the footprints has to be West. That is pretty awesome. I would love to have a copy with West on it to see the difference. But oh well

  15. I like “Peter, James, and John”. It’s quality and style remind me of vintage 80’s Gold City. My father recently recieved this release and put it on regular rotation on his show. It has become one of my favorite Gold City songs.

  16. I am curious…Why is “A Collection of Favorites” never listed in Gold City’s discography? It’s the only CD to feature Josh Cobb and Roy Webb, and, in my opinion, is a good and underrated CD.