DVD Review: “Get Away Jordan” (Signature Sound)

Last Friday, I reviewed Signature Sound’s Get Away Jordan CD. Today, let’s look at the accompanying DVD.

For some reason, whenever I view a DVD, I have a habit of starting with the extras. The DVD lists six extras. The first is a comedic skit introducing the video. The second is an introduction of new Homecoming / Gaither Vocal Band pianist Gordon Mote, capped by an exchange between Bill Gaither and Gordon Mote. The third is an introduction of the musicians on the record. Since it evidently got cut from the DVD, it was a nice touch to include it in the extras. The fourth extra, a photo shoot in the midst of the concert, was also evidently cut from the DVD. During the taping of this DVD, Signature Sound recorded “Stand By Me.” Though the song did not make the cut into the main part of the DVD, it is included here as the fifth extra. The complete audio track is included, while the video track is interspersed with little children doing Signature Sound moves on the song. The highlight is when Bill Gaither joins Signature Sound for some choreography at the end of the song. The sixth extra is of outtakes, most memorably a botched intro to their song “Someday.” There is also a seventh (hidden) bonus track, reached by advancing forward during the sixth track. Without providing any spoilers, I’ll just say that it has to do with Signature Sound, Bill Gaither, and a bear.

The DVD intro and extras are in widescreen, but the concert itself is not. On some computer DVD players, the transition creates a distorted image for the concert that can only be avoided if the viewer takes the slightly irritating steps of switching between full-screen and a smaller window every time the concert starts.

Like the CD, the DVD starts with “Someday.” The song has a few choreography moves, which are not particularly distracting and, in fact, enhance the song.

The second song, “He’s My Guide,” starts off with an introduction that (for some reason) reminds me of their introduction to “Glory to God in the Highest.” The song features lead singer Ryan Seaton and bass Tim Duncan. Again, the song has a few choreographed moves, especially at the end, but the focus is on the singing.

Tim Duncan and Ryan Seaton are featured on the third song, the Statesmen classic “Our Debts Will Be Paid.” Ryan is finally coming into his own as a lead singer; on previous recordings, Doug Anderson had carried many solos a lead singer would often handle in addition to his baritone solos, but on this recording, Ryan’s share of solos is more in line with the amount typically expected out of a lead singer.

The classic Bill Gaither song “Lovest Thou Me” is recorded without choreography. Signature Sound just stands flatfooted and sings as well as any other group out there.

When Signature Sound was new, one of their first songs with some choreography was “Dry Bones.” Now nicknamed “Dem Bones,” this DVD marks its reintroduction to their concerts, this time as a comedy. Roy Webb sings several words at various parts of the song, mainly for comedic effect. The lighting on this song is also worthy of comment; during Ernie Haase and Roy Webb’s exchanges, the lighting seems to be carefully planned, instead of the typical treatment of lighting during conversations as an afterthought.

Signature Sound brings back a popular Cathedrals song, “He Made a Change,” featuring Tim Duncan, before doing their song “Happy Birthday, Anniversary Too.”

The Ball Brothers perform one song, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.” Their brief performance does exactly what it was intended to do–leave the watcher wishing for something more extensive. The Ball Brothers intend to release a DVD this year, so fans should be able to see a more extended concert soon.

Signature Sound returns for a set of three songs – “It is Done,” “Pray for Me,” and “Get Away Jordan.” Of the three, I consider “It is Done” the highlight, though obviously the black-gospel-influenced rendition of “Get Away Jordan” is also well received.

The Gaither Vocal Band appears for three songs, “Search Me Lord,” “Home,” and “He Touched Me.” Signature Sound joins the Vocal Band for the final song, and the groups announce an upcoming video taping with the two groups performing songs together.

The video then cuts away from the concert for the song “John in the Jordan.” The taping is in front of a river. The sound is so similar to the CD track that I can’t help but wonder if Signature Sound sang along with the track from the CD, and a sound engineer dubbed river sounds in.

The video cuts back to the concert for three patriotic songs, “I Pledge My Allegiance” and “Star Spangled Banner,” and “God Bless America.” “I Pledge My Allegiance” brings the audience to its feet before the final chorus comes around, and is perhaps the highlight of the evening.

Tim Duncan is featured on “What God Says.” His vocals on this song are more full and richer than on the original studio version.

“Until We Fly Away” features Signature Sound singing the verses with their backs to the audience, preparing the listener for special video effects accenting the words “fly away” in the chorus.

The concert closes, as most Signature Sound concerts do, with Haase performing “Oh What a Savior,” and the group leaving the stage before returning for a brief encore (this time of “Get Away Jordan.”)

The DVD contains several classic Southern Gospel songs. Many watchers have described it as pushing the edges of being Southern Gospel. I think these comments mainly derive from the “Happy Birthday Anniversary Too” song, which is clearly a novelty song that can be skipped if one desires. With the exception of that song, this project is clearly Southern Gospel quartet music, and, may I add, Southern Gospel quartet music like few others can sing it.


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7 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. When you say “few others”, who exactly do you mean? I can name AT LEAST 7 current groups.

  2. This tells me what happens on the video, but not what you really thought of it. I’d like to hear that, too. (My own review is on my blog if you’re interested.) Personally, I sincerely dislike the patriotic songs. It bothers me to see church and state so closely blended. But I love the Ball Brothers and their amazing teeth, and I could watch/listen to Doug Anderson all day long.

  3. EHSSQ, despite their detractors, are a fine southern gospel group. Everyone picks up on the dancing (if you want to call it that) and the showmanship, but the truth is, the guys can sing. Add to the truth that just about everyone knows them including (as I posted over on averyfineline.com) the bartender at the Moose Lodge and the twenty-something lady with tattoos.

    As a young boy in the fifties, I was amazed at the number of unchurched people who knew the Statesmen by name and their songs. My father, who was an amateur gospel singer in a group, used to tell me that the Statesmen bridged all genres while speading the gospel to a larger audience. I think we have the same thing with EHSSQ. No, they don’t look like a traditional group and heaven knows they don’t act like one, but listen…the music is traditional and good family entertainment. And they are plenty good at what they do.

    Thokugh Daniel didn’t say whether he liked it or not, i’ll bet he did. Like most folks, he knows this group is doing things that most groups are not–reaching out to a different audience. Heaven forbid we ever do that as Christans.

  4. I liked it.

    I just forgot to reply. Thanks, Ron, for commenting and bringing this back to the top of the “recent comments” sidebar.

  5. I listened to the Kingsmen and Satesmen and Blackwood Brothers as a child. Most readers of this blog probably don’t know these groups, but I have to say that Ernie’s group, on this DVD in particular, had me in tears throughout the perforamce because they’ve “rebirthed” southern gospel as I remember it years ago. Someone with a diferent background or experience might see this as cheap showmanship to get an audience and increase revenue, but for me, it’s as good as a slice of Mom’s apple pie and a long walk with my departed grandparents. Thanks Ernie and Signature Sound!!!!

  6. Hey, I feel a little silly asking this, but…I never did figure out how to find the “hidden” extra on this DVD! I tried fast-forwarding through the last one, but I kept getting wrapped back around to the menu. And it doesn’t allow you to skip again after #6, so I’m not sure how to find that elusive seventh one…

  7. Ah yes…this one comes from what I would call the “vitamin in the applesauce” era of EHSS. This was the early Gaither era when they thought they had to “be cool” to be accepted by young people in particular. I call it the “vitamin in the applesauce” because it seems like their idea was, “We’re giving the kids good music—they just don’t know it.” And indeed they were. However, I do feel this particular DVD was a little over-the-top at times. There was some beautiful music and singing, no question, but the “Happy Birthday” number, the “Get Away Jordan” antics and general goofiness make me roll my eyes a bit now and again. I think they struck a better balance with their self-titled DVD. Yeah, the Gaitherization was there, but it was less overtly corny than GAJ.

    Still, there’s no question this was a watershed project for the group with some classic songs. I’m just happy they’ve matured some since then.

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