Groups that Stood the Test of Time: 1980s

Today, let’s look at which groups’ recordings from the 1980s hold the greatest appeal today.

I’ll kick things off with my list. Just for fun, if you like, indicate in your list how many recordings you have by that group from that decade.

  1. Cathedral Quartet (23 recordings). In the 1980s, he long years the Cathedrals had put in laying the groundwork paid off, and they found themselves rising to the top of Southern Gospel, where they would stay for the rest of their career.
  2. Kingsmen (12 recordings). Still at the peak of their Big and Live years at the beginning of the decade, they remained at the top of Southern Gospel through the decade.
  3. Gold City (3 recordings). It’s a tough call where to rank the Cathedrals, Kingsmen, and Gold City on this list!
  4. Inspirations (7 recordings). The Inspirations’ enduring appeal held solid into the 1980s, and their project sound as good today as they did then.
  5. Talleys (0 projects). The Talleys (not to be confused with the Talley Trio) released most of their best work in the mid and late 80s.
  6. Florida Boys. I view the 1980s as the Florida Boys’ peak years artistically; their best studio work was released in this decade.
  7. Masters V (2 projects). Pairing five legends together doesn’t always work, but in this case it was a perfect fit.
  8. The Nelons (2 projects). This decade was probably the Nelons’ peak.
  9. Bill Gaither Trio (2 projects). Though the Bill Gaither Trio’s sound was labeled “Inspirational” then, the Inspirational genre has more or less disappeared and their recordings fit solidly within today’s Southern Gospel.
  10. Hoppers (2 projects). Thanks in part to some work with Lari Goss, they were just starting to develop their niche. Their sound wouldn’t fully coalesce until the end of the decade, when Kim Greene Hopper joined the group, and the lineup that has been consistent for twenty years this year (!) was in place.

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22 Letters to the Editor

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  1. I might include on my list the Blackwood Bros, I think they had their strongest line up with Pat Hoffmaster, Jimmy Blackwood, Cecil Blackwood, and Ken Turner. Early 80’s.

  2. The Singing Americans should have made the list. Varied groups like the one w/ English & Funderburk. Then Ivan Parker. But 2 solid projects on Riversong w/ the English, Hill, Strickland, Burke line up were

    1984 “Live and Alive” – #1 song “I Bowed on My Knees”.
    (On the album Jerry Goff introduces the group as “being voted the top quartet in southern gospel music”.)

    1985 “Black & White” – Phenomenal project produced by Lari Goss. Same year English wins Singing News Lead Singer of the Year.

    Even after English departure.. that group had hits like “Heartbeat” and “The Bridegroom Cometh”.. Should have been on the list.

    Fun posts to read… good blog.

  3. gvbfan – I realize this is all subjective, but who would you have bumped from the top 10 to get the Singing Americans on?

  4. I can tell you who I would have bumped: The Hoppers. Nothing against them, but I don’t think they’ve every been near the level of the others in the list.

  5. If you decide to do the 00’s, some suggestions include the Gaither Vocal Band, the Isaacs, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, the Crabb Family, the Legacy Five, Greater Vision, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Gold City and Karen Peck & New River. I guess the Inspirations should still be there too.

    The Oak Ridge Boys also came back to Gospel in a major way, and are at least as good today as they’ve ever been, but I’m not sure they warrant a place on the top 10.

    I don’t think being part of the Gaither entourage was necessary for inclusion on this list, but it’s funny how many of the groups I mentioned were Gaither regulars.

  6. To answer your question… I would have bumped B.G. Trio and put the Singing Americans at #9 easy.

    Again.. fun posts.. very enjoyable.

  7. Hmm. I guess I thought the effect of the BGT was more far-reaching than either the Hoppers or SA’s.

  8. Using the standard of “hold the greatest appeal today”, I’d put the Singing Americans of the 80’s on the list over the same time period’s versions of the Hoppers, Bill Gaither Trio, Florida Boys or the Master’s V and possibly the Talleys. I love all of those groups, but using your criteria, the Singing Americans of the 80’s beat them out in my opinion.

  9. #4 – You do have a good point there.

    #5 – I’m not going to do the ’00s. The idea isn’t how good they sounded in their era, but how well their recordings stand the test of time. That equation requires some passage of time! 🙂

    #8 – Very interesting! I certainly think I see more Bill Gaither Trio records being sold, played, and discussed today, but I think that might be because Bill Gaither’s continued success has helped keep their catalog relevant.

  10. Top 10 groups of the ’80s based on what was produced that era (not if folks think it is great today).

    Gold City
    Hinsons (Even though the mid ’70s was better)
    Singing Americans
    Heaven Bound
    Wendy Bagwell & Sunliters (they recorded some of their best music this decade)

  11. Seaton, I’d have to agree that your list is almost certainly right on target, though I personally think the Hemphills and Sunliters probably don’t have quite the same appeal today. Who would be on your list of which groups’ recordings sound best by today’s standards?

  12. My question would be if those same groups were touring today producing the same music they did in the ’80s would it hold the same appeal? I don’t know. Today’s measuring stick of who is recording the best music would not be the same if we were putting it up against music recorded in the ’80s.

    Barring who they are, if the Cathedrals were touring today recording the music they did in the ’80s would they still be as popular today (in this era with those recordings) as say what Ernie Haase & Signature Sound is recording? Again I don’t have the answer to that question.

    That is why I believe you have to look at what was the best music recorded in the specific era in which you’re talking. It really doesn’t matter whether it still has or would have appeal today. It holds appeal to people like you and me who enjoy the history and music of Southern Gospel through various decades but even the best music of those decades may not hold any appeal to new folks who become fans of Southern Gospel nowadays. Just a thought.

  13. You do have a point that what was considered best in that decade was probably the best measure. That’s why I was trying to think a little outside the box with these lists. It’s not how one typically approaches evaluating a decade, and it’s probably not even the best measure. But it is different, and I think it is worth considering.

  14. Actually, one of my criteria for what makes a project great is whether it has “staying appeal.” I don’t necessarily mean for decades, but I have to reserve my judgment on some albums for a while. There are a lot of them that I thought were great when they came out, but since I’ve had them a few years, I skip the music when it comes up.

    I don’t just mean because I’ve “over-listened” to it. There’s a difference.

    Just my two cents …

  15. I’m especially like that with Greater Vision projects. For example, I thought I was going to like “My Favorite Place” more, but in the long run I play “Songs From the Stories” a lot more.

  16. I don’t have “Songs From the Stories.” Is that a compilation, or is it Greater Vision?

    It’s funny, but GV is who I was thinking of when I talked about reserving my judgment. To be honest, GV and the Dove Brothers. I am not nearly as big a fan of the DBQ as I used to be, while GV usually “passes the test.”

    (I’m only saying that here because I’m primarily referring to my own personal opinion and tastes.)

  17. Songs from the Stories is a 2004 table project where they cut 14 Rodney Griffin songs, most of which had been previously cut by other groups. For example, Rodney wrote the Kingdom Heirs hit “The Depths of the Father’s Love” – Jason sings that there. “Go Tell the People” is another highlight.

  18. OK – I supposed it was “previously recorded” and didn’t get it. It has now moved onto my list. I have “Go Tell the People” by [the original group, I suppose] and it isn’t that great. 🙂 IMO

  19. What does the three recordings from GC mean?? That is what you personally own you mean? Because they put out WAY more than three recordings in the 80’s.

  20. Yes.

    But I have most of their hits from the era on compilations.

  21. Personally, I think the type of music from the 80s would still work. I don’t want to down too much of what’s out there now, but the music just had a lot more “substance” to me, and it was presented with a whole lot of class.

  22. I would drop the Hoppers and Bill Gaither Trio, and replace them with the Hinsons (Bubblin’, Hinsongs, Lift The Roof Off, It Runs In The Family, should I go on?), and Hemphills (Good Things, Louisiana Live, I Can Smile, Revival).