Which decade had the best live concerts?

Some people think that nothing could top the excitement of a late-1950s Statesmen concert. Others would point to the 1970s Kingsmen, or to another group or era. In what decade was the Southern Gospel live concert experience the strongest?

Just because it’s more interesting this way, we’ll split it into two polls. Take the first if your 40 or older, and the second if you’re 39 or younger.

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Feel free to elaborate why you selected the decade you selected in the comments below.

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31 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. In my opinion it has to be the 80’s! You had some of the best quartets ever during that time! If you look at some of the live Albums that came out during that time, they’re classics to this day! Cathedrals, K

  2. Cathedrals, Kingsmen, Gold City, and the Singing Americans just to name a few! Those Live albums could not be touched!

    • Definately. I wish they’d get back to more of the 80’s style. I like the way Bro. Sam Davison put it. There’s what they call Southern Gospel, and real Southern Gospel. And what came from the 80’s was real Southern Gospel, not the urban country style they have now.

  3. I voted for the 1970s, but if I could have split decades, I would have gone from 1975-1985 or so.

  4. Good post.
    I’m in the younger age group, and picked the 1970’s. Would have picked the 1980’s, but I started thinking about The Inpirations’ “Warner Robins Live” and “12th Anniversary Live”.
    And then there’s The Cathedrals’ “Live In Concert” , and “Live With The Cathedral Quartet”. Kingsmen did “Big and Live”, “Chatanooga Live” (IMO, better than “Big And Live”),

    The Oak Ridge Boys recorded “Jesus Is Comming Soon” on “Preformance” in 1971. I haven’t heard the whole project, just one song. Still, it’s solid quartet singing.

    As for great recordings in other decades, there are many.
    In the 1960’s, I’m thinking of the clip on YouTube of the Statesmen at the 1962 NQC. I had never before heard Rosie as high as he was on “Our Debts Will Be Paid”. Had no idea he could make it up there. I could see why people who saw the Statesmen in the 50’s and 60’s still say they are the best

    Contenders in the 80’s are the Singing Americans “Live and Alive”, Cathedrals’ “Travellin’ Live”.
    I don’t know what Live recording this version of “Sinner Saved By Grace” came off of, but it’s really good. (even though the video is out of sync with the audio) I love it. Danny, Gerald, Mark, Glenn, and George just had the special “it” that makes a group legendary.

    Then there’s the Masters V:

    Not sure if this is a live video that they released, (didn’t find it on SGhistory.com) or if it was just a home video of a live concert. But oh, they were good!

    Honestly, the best live recording I’ve ever heard came from the early 1990’s, Perfect Heart’s “Command Performance”. There’s fabulous singing, but the best way of describing this album is “anoinetd”. Hope you can find a copy of it for yourself.

    • Just to clarify, I’m talking about live concerts overall, not just live recordings – though, it must be admitted, that plus home video YouTube clips are about the only two ways that those of our generation can experience something close to what older fans experienced!

  5. The Hinsons. Need I say more?

    • Actually, yes. Which decade of their concerts? 🙂

  6. I would vote for a ten-year period between 1975 and 1985. Gospel music was finally allowing full bands into the mix, which added so much to a live recording, and performance trax were not yet the norm. Granted, this was also when overdubs were heavily used to fill in the band (and fix vocals), but it still came out very well.

    • Funny how, for all the things we see differently, we come up with an identical time period here! 🙂

      • Hahaha. There are some things that are simply indisputable!!

      • I dispute that.

  7. I voted the 80’s. The last of the Bands in my opinion!

    • As I mentioned in another comment, it was really a big toss-up for me between the ’70s and the ’80s!

  8. Which decade had the best live concerts, or the best live albums? I have live albums from most of these decades, but have only attended a few concerts, and all those in the 2010s. I don’t know if referring to the concerts live albums were created from is enough of a sample size. I guess it will have to do for most of us younger folks!

    • What’s your best guess, based on live albums and YouTube videos?

      • I’m partial to the 80s…Travelin’ Live, Live in Atlanta, and everything the Kingsmen did in the 1980s are among my favorites.

      • OK!

  9. You’re gonna end up with a couple of nice bell curves here.

  10. Well the 80’s had DMB Band, Mid South, White River, and all the Qt with bands! That is why I chose the 80’s!

  11. Daniel this maynot be a fair test. For those to young to have lived through the 50’s or the 60’s or even the 80’s for that matter, they have no sense of what those earlier concerts were about. I would suggest everyone find a copy of the Statesmen and the Blackwoods live from Chicago and give it a listen. Now don’t listen to the difference in recording technology from that era to now…….listen to the performance and the crowd response.

    I over heard a gentlman at NQC ask Ben Speer this question, “What would happen if you could bring back the Statesmen of their hey day with Jake, Rosie, Doy, Chief and Hovie and put them on the main stage at NQC today?” Ben Speer never hesitated at all, “They would tear this place apart and they would own the stage”. IN my 62 years I have had the pleasure of seeing all of the generations mentioned in your quiz except the 40’s. No one has electrified the audience like the Statesmen. And that from a true Imperials fan like me.

    • Ben, I know it isn’t an entirely fair test, because no matter your age, there is always someone older than you, and someone younger than you! 🙂 But that said, if you look at the breakdown of the poll of younger fans, over half have voted for a decade they either did not experience firsthand or would only have experienced as a child!

    • I recently played The Blackwood Brothers’ “On Tour”, dated 1961, and couldn’t help but notice how the audience was enthralled with the Quartet. The audience was in the palm of the group’s hand. JD wasn’t even singing low, and people would go wild at the end of songs as he slid down.

  12. All I have to say is Live and Alive Singing Americans Go 80’s enough said LOL

  13. Indeed, the fact is that most of the young ones are choosing a decade that either they didn’t experience, or one that they were very young in during the time.
    The Masters V had been renamed the Stamps before I was born, and I was 3 months old when Danny Funderburk left the Cathedrals. My first real exposure to the Cathedrals was their Farewell video.

    A few years ago, I was in a conversation with some singers about today’s Southern Gospel and Southern Gospel from the past. One of the guys in the dicussion (who is 88 years old now and still singing bass in a quartet) told me that I was an old man trapped in a young body. I take that as a compliment.

  14. I would have to say 1980’s…and here is one of the best by the Kingsmen…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bppEaIzSdA&feature=related

  15. I’m 18 and I never have been in a Southern Gospel concert but I voted for the 70’s because the sound of the live albums recorded by The Kingsmen and J.D. Sumner & The Stamps in this era is incredible. I really enjoy listening to the live albums recorded in this decade.

  16. In general, I’d have to go with the 70s to 80s. I like that era. You had the Kingsmen just starting. you had some great material from the Cathedrals. Love that older music. Wish more groups would bring it back.

  17. I was torn between the 70’s and 80’s but finally voted for the 80’s. That was the decade that I went from being 4 years old to 14 years old and it was the many live concerts I went to in the 80’s that caused me to be a southern gospel fan.

    • It must have been neat to experience it first-hand!