Too often, artists in this genre miss the obvious when putting together album liner notes. (This especially goes for table projects.) So I thought I would make a checklist:
- Copyright date. Yes, this is stating the obvious, but even some recent projects omit this information. For someone going back years later, it can be awfully hard to place the year a project was recorded. So what year was the Weatherfords’ Finest in Gospel Singing recorded? I’ve heard everything from 1956 to 1959. It was probably closer to 1959, but if I’m not mistaken, even the Weatherfords experts aren’t completely certain. Years later, that sort of question can become difficult to sort out.
- Song credits. I believe author and copyright information is required by law for songs under copyright. Bonus points to groups that include credits for public domain songs. Even though it isn’t required by law, it is nice to give credit where credit is due, even if the song has been around long enough to become a classic. It took me over a year to track down the names of the authors for “When They Ring Those Golden Bells” and “The Eastern Gate,” since both songs are public domain and often uncredited in Southern Gospel liner notes.
- Production / recording credits. All major projects today have these, but occasionally I’ll come across a table project that omits this information.
- Contact information for the group. Include more than just the website, since a significant part of our audience does not have computer / Internet access.
- List of group members. Many projects today do not have this information. It’s one thing if you’re Greater Vision or the Hoppers, and you have changes less than once a decade. But for groups that can even keep turnover down to one change every few years, fast forward five years and someone new to the group might not know who was on a particular project. Even someone like me, who has something like 1,200 Southern Gospel projects, has to ask for help for figuring out the lineup of a Dixie Melody Boys recording from just eight or ten years ago. Of course, no group owner in his right mind would plan on turnover, but he should at least plan for turnover.
- List of which group member had the solo on each song. This is something seen in CCM and only rarely here, in a genre where it’s probably even more important. Even a group of Greater Vision’s stature wouldn’t do badly to include this: Despite the fact that Gerald Wolfe and Rodney Griffin have sung together for thirteen or fourteen years, and I have most of those projects, I can still sometimes listen to a recording and not be quite sure which member has the solo on a certain song.
- A group photo. Southern Gospel groups are pretty good about this.
- Bonus points for including lyrics. Southern Gospel songs go by fast enough that the lyrics aren’t always clearly distinguishable. And many Southern Gospel fans don’t have access to the Internet to pull the lyrics up online.
Did I miss anything?