CD Review: “This is George Younce” (George Younce)
This CD is a collection of twelve songs Younce recorded, mostly in the 1970s.
“He is the Dearest Friend” was recorded in 1976 for the Easy on the Ears, Heavy on the Heart album. (The album and song, incidentally, were produced by Bill Gaither.) The song is in the key of A, and Younce sings low A at several points throughout the verses; his voice never sounded better in this subwoofer range than it did at this point in his life, before his heart attack.
“He is the Dearest Friend” and the second song, “Row Your Boat,” were both written by Younce. “Row Your Boat” applies naval imagery to the Christian life. It was originally recorded on the Cathedrals’ 1973 release Seniors in Season.
“He Came Back” was recorded in 1975 on the Cathedrals’ album For Keeps. (For Keeps, incidentally, is to the best of my knowledge the album on which the Southern Gospel classic “Shout over Heaven” was introduced.) This song is one of the highlights of the collection.
The fourth song the collection is the Joel Hemphill classic “Jesus Have Mercy on Me,” from the Cathedrals’ 1974 Our Statue of Liberty album. The first three songs on the project showcase Younce’s low singing; this is the first of several songs that features him carrying a lead, though in a lower key than a lead singer might perform the song. Younce carries the melody through the chorus, with the rest of the group joining in inverted harmony.
“Then I Found Jesus,” the fifth song on the project, comes from A Little Bit of Everything (1970). Younce wrote the song, which became a Cathedrals standard throughout the 1970s.
“Keep on the Firing Line” is one of the few songs from the 1980s in this collection. This song, one of the few songs on the project to feature Kirk Talley’s and Mark Trammell’s voices, was recorded on Trammell’s first album with the group, Telling the World About His Love. Even though this song was recorded only a few years after the others on the project, a difference can already be heard in Younce’s voice quality.
“So I Love Him Dearly” comes from the Cathedrals’ 1978 album One at a Time. Younce wrote the song, which has recently been brought back by Gaither Homecoming tour artist Mike Allen.
The eighth song on the project, “Rumormill,” is distinctively a novelty song. (“If it can be twisted, you can be sure that it will / ‘Cause there ain’t nothing sacred at the rumormill.”) Younce recorded the song on the Cathedrals’ 1983 project Individually. Female backup singers sing the harmony parts; the voices of the other Cathedrals cannot be heard on the song.
Younce wrote the ninth song on the project, “Little Deeds.” It was originally recorded on Welcome to Our World (1972). The Cathedrals had quite a bit of tenor turnover that year. Mack Taunton was the tenor at the beginning of the year, and Roy Tremble ended the year with the job, but between the two, Bobby Clark and Roger Horne filled the tenor position. Either Horne or Tremble sings the tenor part on this song.
“The Cross Was His Own” comes from the Cathedrals’ 1977 project Then and Now.
“Seeing Eye Dog” comes from Seniors in Session (1973). Younce sings solo throughout the song, unlike most of the other songs on the project (where the rest of the quartet joins on the chorus).
The final song on the project is one of Younce’s many renditions of “This Old House.” I believe it came from Seniors in Session. (I must admit I reached this conclusion by process of elimination, as I already have Younce’s other renditions of the song.)
When he recorded these songs, he was in peak voice. Though I haven’t always said this, I have always in the back my mind had the 1970s as the point when he was in peak voice. In the earliest years of his career, his voice had not attained its full depth, and in the final years of his career, various health issues including heart attacks and kidney failure took their toll.
On various message boards and in this blog, I have been known to make the case for George Younce being the best Southern Gospel bass of all time. When I say that, I think of the way his voice sounded at its peak. If you want to hear what his voice sounded like at its peak, listen to songs from this era–and if you want to listen to songs from this era, there is no better place to start than with this collection of some of his best songs from the era, digitally cleaned up and on CD for the first time.