CD Review: Missing People (The Kingsmen)

kingsmenRating: 5 stars (of 5)

Average song rating: 4.5 stars (of 5)

Song List: Missing People; Someday; They Went to Pray; Mountain of Grace; When It’s All Said and Done; Cheer the Weary Traveler; God Saw a Cross; He Picks Up a Beggar on the Way; God Knows; He is the Only One; Reprise – Someday.

Members: Harold Reed (tenor), Phillip Hughes (lead), Bryan Hutson (baritone), Ray Dean Reese (bass), Cody McVey (pianist), Brandon Reese (sound engineer).

Available from: Label.

* * *

The Kingsmen’s last release, When God Ran (2008), picked up quite a bit of positive buzz, even earning a 5-star review here. It was the first project with new tenor Harold Reed and returning baritone/lead Bryan Hutson; it was also their first post-band release. But even with all the factors I could enumerate that made the project different, there was one factor that I couldn’t quite put my finger on that made all the difference.

With Missing People, that factor is a little more obvious.

First off, the basics: Missing People has a street date of September 15, but the digital download is available for purchase on Crossroads’ site now. The same vocal lineup featured on the previous project returns for this one. Pianist Cody McVey appears for the first time, but that doesn’t make much difference in the group’s sound, since groups typically use studio musicians to cut soundtracks.

The project has one nod to the past, a lively cut of the convention song “Cheer the Weary Traveler.” But—as on When God Ran—the highlight is the new material. “When It’s All Said and Done” (penned by Dustin Sweatman and Scotty Inman) and “Someday” (by Woody Wright) are strong quartet songs that should go over well in live concerts. “Mountain of Grace” (Dianne Wilkinson) and “God Saw A Cross” (Rodney Griffin) are big ballads with powerful lyrics.

The title track, “Missing People,” has some similarities to the 1997 Kingsmen song “Missing Children” (on Shelter). Both start with first verses about the loss of family and loved ones on earth. But while the earlier song, “Missing Children,” takes the idea down a Good Shepherd / evangelistic path, “Missing People” contrasts losses here on earth with the lack of loss in Heaven. (One minor side note. I hate to be nitpicky on grammar, since I’m far from perfect myself, but on the first line of the chorus, the singular “There’s”—there is—doesn’t match the plural “people.” It really should either be “There’s no missing person up in Heaven” or “There’re no missing people up in Heaven.”)

So what sets these two projects apart from the last few years of the Kingsmen discography?

Since getting the rights to the Kingsmen back a few years ago, the current lineups have been constantly compared to decades of strong recordings from one of Southern Gospel’s most popular groups. So they did their best to capture that classic Kingsmen big-and-live sound.

They really didn’t do all that badly. After all, pretty much every project from 2004’s The Past is Past picked up a few reviews that said “with this project, the Kingsmen are finally back.” But the aptly named The Past is Past was just a few years prescient.

Today’s Kingsmen have recognized that even if they can come closer than anyone else, they can never quite be the 1979 Kingsmen. So while their sound and arrangements still frequently bring to mind the classic Kingsmen sound, this lineup has found its own niche. When God Ran and Missing People show a Kingsmen lineup comfortable in their own shoes.

For more about —and other Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!

19 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. Good Review Daniel!!! I agree with most everything you said 🙂

  2. I still love the Kingsmen after all these years! Glad they are still singing and that Ray is still captain.

    The 70’s Kingsmen were ‘3 chords and a cloud of dust and a ton of fun’, but the current group seems a little more detailed about vocals which is really great. They are still a ton of fun though!

  3. I may just have to get this album!!

  4. I think I’m going to download it instead of waiting until NQC. Daniel, I thought Scotty Inman co-wrote “When It’s All Said and Done” with Dustin.

    • You’re right! I’m calling him as I type this to apologize.

  5. Regarding the grammar “mistake”, I just consider that good Southern English! Kinda like “I Don’t Want to Live No More Without Jesus”. 😉

    • I suppose so. But if I’m not mistaken, Dottie Rambo made the same mistake … and later fixed it, changing “There’s no stars in the sky” to “There’re no stars in the sky” on “If That Isn’t Love.”

  6. Good Review, can’t wait to hear it. What was your favorite song?

    • Hard to tell. I have a couple of favorites. “When It’s All Said and Done” and “God Saw a Cross” are early standouts.

  7. I see you have brandon listed on drums…since the new project has he went back to being the drummer or is he still running sound?

    • Truth be told, I actually don’t know. I was working with *very* limited information. That was actually my semi-educated guess based on the fact that there are six people pictured on the cover.

      • When I saw them in concert in June, Brandon was still running sound.

      • OK. To play it safe, I edited the review.

  8. I can’t wait to add this one to my collection. Soon as i get my computer up and running, i may get the download as well. Love the Kingsmen!

  9. Look forward to hearing this one. I saw them last night in Mesquite TX and this current lineup seems to ge doing click well. They did a good mix of old and new. Bryan Hutson does well doing the emcee work.

  10. howdy, i always appreciate the hard reviews. The kingsmen are my favorite. But with the Kingsmen i prefer to do my own review. now don’t get me wrong. i’m just as hard on them. a few years ago (94)-they had the song-i will rise up from the grave, it was #1 for them, i was glad, but personally i couldn’t stand the song. For me the shelter was only a 2 hit cd for me. As long as Ray is with them i will continue to support them. thanks daniel. 2 questions for you. 1. what’s up with harold gilley. 2. what was the outcome of the favorite songs survey?

    • Harold Gilley resurfaced not too long ago singing bass for Ron Blackwood’s Blackwood Quartet. But I think that didn’t last too long before he got back off the road and their previous bass singer (Trent Adams, I think) returned.

      On the survey – I’m not recalling here. Which survey?

      • Just ask Ron Why? He has the answers.

  11. I love this cd and my favorite song is indeed God Saw A Cross. This is a song truly for every Christian.