CD Review: Until Now (Gerald Wolfe)
Average Song Rating: 4.2 (of 5)
Producer: Various; compiled by Gerald Wolfe.
Song List: Introduction (Wait For An Answer); I Still Cling to the Old Rugged Cross; Land of Living; Cherish That Name; The Eyes of Jesus; Champion of Love; Just One More Soul; No Wonder; There Is A River; O Holy Night; You’ll Carry Me Through; The Spirit of Brokenness; ‘Til the Storm Passes By.
Available from: Artist.
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This album is a collection of Gerald Wolfe’s best known feature songs from his 25 years in Southern Gospel music. Seven of the thirteen songs are from Greater Vision projects; three are new recordings, and there is one each from Wolfe’s brief late-80s solo career, his early-80s Dumplin Valley Trio days, and his childhood.
The track from his childhood starts the project. It’s Wolfe’s earliest known recording, singing “Wait For an Answer” at age 4. Wolfe had a remarkable sense of pitch then, and stayed pretty close to pitch even when he couldn’t enunciate all the consonants that 4-year-olds have trouble with. (It’s the sort of thing that you just wish had been captured on home video.)
Rather than progressing in chronoligical order, the next song is the project’s new song, Wolfe’s rendition of “I Still Cling to the Old Rugged Cross.” The transition from Wolfe at 4 accompanied by piano to Wolfe in his 40s accompanied by a full orchestra (either the Prague Symphony Orchestra or the Nashville String Machine) is slightly jarring on the first listen, but becomes a fun contrast on later spins.
Given that this is more or less a career retrospective project, the most notable omission from the song list is that there are no Cathedral Quartet tracks on the project. There are other renditions of songs Wolfe recorded while with the Cathedrals (“Land of Living,” “Champion of Love”), but no tracks actually featuring the Cathedrals. Chances are that the cost of licensing the actual Cathedrals recordings was prohibitive—perhaps even more expensive than the new full-budget recording of “Champion of Love.”
However, the Cathedrals tracks aren’t all that hard to find. Plus, Wolfe’s 1986 rendition of “Land of Living” with the Dumplin Valley Trio is the sort of thing you couldn’t easily find anywhere else. Released just months before Wolfe joined the Cathedrals, this is the sort of thing (whether or not the actual song) that landed Wolfe the job. Wolfe, of course, would re-record the song shortly thereafter on the Cathedrals’ 1987 Land of Living Project.
“No Wonder,” a duet with Joy Gardner, is the only song from Wolfe’s solo career present on the project. It’s from his 1989 tape Hold Forth the Light.
So is this compilation worth purchasing? If you do not have most of Greater Vision’s earlier discography, you would have few of the songs on the project, and it would definitely be worth purchasing. If your Greater Vision collection is wide enough that you already have most of the songs on the project, then it depends on how much you like Wolfe as a vocalist. If you’re more a casual fan, you might just wait for it to be released digitally and purchase two or three highilght tracks. But if Wolfe is one of your favorite vocalists, there is enough new and hard-to-find material on this project that it’s worth the cost.