3 Essential Mark Trammell Trio/Quartet Albums
The Essential Albums column highlights the albums every Southern Gospel fan should add to their collections.
- 2008: Always Have a Song. In my October 2008 review, I explained why it “sets the standard by which other Mark Trammell Trio projects [will be] measured for years to come.” It still does. Rather than revisiting the same ground covered in the review, here’s a more personal recollection: To this day, I cannot think of this album without thinking of the group’s late bus driver, Walter Bohannon. Many Southern Gospel bus drivers are every bit as delightful to talk with as the artists, and Walter was certainly near the top of that list. This album came out at the 2008 National Quartet Convention. On my first day in Freedom Hall, I stopped by their booth and started talking with him. Excitement lit his face as he tried to find the words to capture just how good “Loving the Lamb” was. He said it was the best project the group had ever released. He was right.
- 2004: Beside Still Waters. Like the mellow sounds of a mountain spring, Beside Still Waters is one of those albums you don’t fully appreciate on first listen. In fact, it was probably three or four years before I realized how strong this album really was. Yes, it was the current album from the headlining group at my first live Southern Gospel concert, but I think I spent several years trying to over-compensate for any bias that may have caused. Original lead singer Joseph Smith wrote and was featured on the bluegrass-influenced “The Love of Christ.” The title track is so strong that the Nelons revisited it five years later—and made it that album’s title track, too! Ballads like “I am Free” to “When I Stand in the Presence” and convention songs like “When They Ring the Bells of Heaven” and “According to the Scriptures” make this the strongest all-around project from the group’s original lineup.
- 2011: Treasures. This tribute to the Cathedrals doesn’t claim or aspire to be more than it is. But it doesn’t need to be. The songs are performed so flawlessly that any attempts to “put their own unique spin” on them would have been touching up a da Vinci with a paint sprayer. (Reviewed here.)
- (bonus) 2008: Peace On Earth. I came close to saying this when I reviewed it in December 2009. I’ll say it now. This Christmas album, a Mark Trammell solo project, is the greatest Southern Gospel Christmas project ever recorded.
Do you agree or disagree with this list? If you could only choose three albums to introduce a friend to this group, which would you pick?