The Inspirations at 50, Part 3
This year, the Inspirations celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. We’re going to commemorate this landmark milestone with a series looking at ten of their all-time greatest albums. Also see: Part 1 (7-10), Part 2 (4-6).
#3: I Know (2006)
As this top-ten countdown nears its final stretch, it’s rather unavoidable that superlatives abound. But the Inspirations’ career deserves superlatives.
I Know is the strongest release of the Inspirations’ Crossroads era. Two of the three #1 hits they have had in the last thirty years—”I Have Not Forgotten” and “If You Only Knew” came off this recording. Yet this recording is packed with songs so powerful that it wouldn’t have been surprising to see one or two more.
Song list: I’ve Never Gotten Over Geting Saved; If You Only Knew; I Know; I Have Not Forgotten; Shed For Even Me; At His Feet; When I Walk On Streets Of Gold; Living Like There’s No Yesterday; Led By The Master’s Hand; My Best Friend.
#2: On Heaven’s Bright Shore (1976)
Every list of this nature needs at least one surprise, and this is it. Ask casual fans and serious fans to name the group’s all-time strongest releases off the top of their heads; this isn’t always one of the first to come to mind. But that only goes to show just how much this album is underrated.
The Inspirations’ releases from this era, the era when they were the fan’s favorite group in the genre, are all distinguished by instrumental and vocal excellence. What, then, sets this apart is its song selection. Songs like “Land of Living,” “I’ll Live Again,” “Rose Among The Thorns,” “On Heaven’s Bright Shore,” “The Redeemed Are Coming Home,” and “When Fair Heaven I See” make this the group’s all-time greatest studio album.
Song list: On Heaven’s Bright Shore; Rose Among The Thorns; A Mansion Is Waiting; The Redeemed Are Coming Home; Land Of The Living; Far Better Than This; When Fair Heaven I See; Are You Listening For The Lord; He’ll Wipe Away The Tears; Help Me Lord; He’ll Do A New Thing; I’ll Live Again.
#1: A Night of Inspiration (1976)
The 1970s were an era of compelling live performances. We’re still talking about the Kingsmen, Rambos, Happy Goodmans, and countless others from this era. A Night of Inspiration shows how, even in this august company, the Inspirations became the decade’s most popular group, winning six of the ten Singing News Fan Awards for Favorite Artist handed out that decade.
Some groups used live albums as an occasion to introduce new songs. Here, the focus was more on live versions of songs like “Touring The City,” “When I Wake Up To Sleep No More,” and “Jesus Is Mine” that were already beloved hits.
It would perhaps be a theoretical possibility to read about the Inspirations’ hit songs and live appeal and have an intellectual understanding of how this decade made them legends. But once you have listened to this album, it’s no longer theoretical. You feel it in your bones as you feel the energy and the messages in your soul.
Song list: Touring That City; When I Wake Up To Sleep No More; The First Million Years; When God Dips His Pen Of Love In My Heart; Amazing Grace; Tears Will Never Stain The Streets Of That City; I’ve Got More To Go To Heaven For; These Are They; Thanks For Loving Me; Jesus Is Mine.