CD Review: Destination Heaven (Melody Boys Quartet)

Rating: 4 (of 5)

Average Song Rating: 3.6 (of 5)

Producer: Nick Bruno.

Song List: All Aboard We’re Glory Bound; Little By Little; Oh Broken Heart; The Stone Was Rolled Away; The Lamb He Died to Save; Come To the Water; Sinners Plea; Lonesome Road; Glory Bound; Give Me Jesus; I’ve Made it Home; Heaven, the Place of My Dreams.

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The Southern Gospel genre encompasses many styles—to name a few, country, bluegrass, Appalachian, and ’80s Inspirational. One part of the genre far more successful than many elsewhere in the genre is the classic Southern Gospel circuit, groups that sing Southern Gospel the way it was sung 40 or 50 years ago. Some of the best groups on the classic Southern Gospel circuit are the Blackwood Brothers, Chuck Wagon Gang, Dixie Echoes, Dixie Echoes, and the Melody Boys Quartet.

Yes, the Dixie Melody Boys and the Melody Boys are two separate groups. Ed O’Neal runs the Dixie Melody Boys and has for decades; SGMA Hall of Famer Gerald Williams heads this group. He joined the group in 1949 and sang with them for several years before singing with other groups in the 1960s and 70s. He reorganized the Melody Boys in the 1980s. By around 2000, the group had built quite a following. In recent years, it has suffered from fairly quick turnover. Probably the most recognizable name to go through the group in the past few years was Ryan Seaton, who sang with the group for a little under a year before getting the call to join Signature Sound.

The current lineup is Gerald Williams (bass), Tim Williams (tenor), Steven Hickinbotham (lead), and Caleb Matheny (baritone/pianist). Hickinbotham and Tim Williams both joined this year; Tim Williams is no apparent relation. He joined the group after singing with and being a co-owner of the west coast-based Golden State Quartet for several years. Caleb Matheny, though the youngest member, is also the second most senior in the current lineup; he has been with the group since 2006.

Several of the tracks are classic or classic-sounding songs recorded in the four-guys-and-a-piano style that the group has been best known for. Gerald Williams turns in an enjoyable rendition of “Lonesome Road,” resisting the temptation to show off his lowest notes. Tim Williams is featured on “Oh Broken Heart,” the Melody Boys classic “Sinner’s Plea,” and the Neil Enloe-penned “Give Me Jesus.” Steven Hickinbotham takes the lead on the convention song “I’ve Made It Home.” The new Dianne Wilkinson song “Heaven, the Place of My Dreams” is a perfect fit for the Melody Boys’ sound, and for Gerald Williams’ voice on the solo.

Several other tracks are recorded with more orchestration. Perhaps the standout among these is “The Lamb He Died to Save.” The song was penned by Joseph Smith and was recorded by both the Booth Brothers (sound clip here) and the Mark Trammell Trio during Smith’s years with those groups. Baritone Caleb Matheny turns in an excellent rendition of the song. Juxtaposing ballads with songs like “Heaven, the Place of My Dreams” is something found often on recordings by other groups but was more outside the box for this group. However, they pulled off the ballad sound well enough that it would not be surprising to see more of this in the future.

The project is enjoyable, and this lineup shows great promise if it can stay together long enough to realize its potential.

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7 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. This cd is the best one the guys have done since the Sawrie/Franklin/Raines days. “Give Me Jesus” is my favorite one. Tim’s voice really fits that song. And I think it’s actually Hickinbotham featured on “The Lamb”. Mr. Gerald always keeps a good quartet to do that textbook style of quartet singing that we need to hear more of. This cd takes the guys a little out of their comfort zone and shows that they do some of the more modern arrangements like “Come to the Water” and “The Lamb” really well. “Oh Broken Heart” is so doggone sad (lol), but they do such a beautiful job on it that I believe it is really going to impact a lot of people. I think that one would make a good radio single. I love these guys and they did a great job on this album!

    • this is a great new cd good job guy.s

      • Ha cant wait to get new cd you guy.s are a great guartet,keep on singing those songs. gail

  2. Gerald Williams and the Melody Boys have always been a class act and I expect them to remain so for a long time to come. Gerald is one of the finest bass singers on the planet, and beyond that, one of the finest Christian men I have ever met. I count it an honer to call him my friend. I have not had the honer of hearing this latest CD as of yet, but I know Gerald, and I know Nick Bruno, and that combo cannot be anything but fantastic.

  3. Hidee Daniel,
    Thank you for taking the time to review this CD for The Melody Boys Quartet! I readily admit that I am prejudiced when it comes to TMBQ. However, I truly believe this is a tremendous CD! I would like to invite everyone to visit and listen to the five songs that are available on the website: “The Stone was Rolled Away (first radio single); Sinner’s Plea (Joe Roper’s classic composition); Little By Little; Oh Broken Heart; and my favorite, Heaven the Place of My Dreams.

    • Ha bro have a good tour and be safe see u when u and mott can .

      • Ha bro u all have a good tour and ill see u and mott at mom.s when u can come. God bless u all ok? love your site and new song.s gail