CD Review: Vintage Gospel (Mark Trammell Trio)

Rating: 4.5 stars

Average Song Rating: 4.3 stars

Executive Producer: Mark Trammell. Associate Producer: Dustin Sweatman.

Song list: Leave Your Sorrows and Come Along; Mansion Over the Hilltop; Hold Me; John Saw Me; Standing On the Solid Rock; While Ages Roll; Sweetest Song I Know; Sin Will Take You Farther; In the Sweet Forever; Hide Thou Me.

* * *

After Joel Wood joined the Mark Trammell Trio earlier this year, there evidently wasn’t enough time to turn around a CD of new songs featuring the new lineup by NQC. So the group decided to put out its second CD of classic songs. (Their first, Journey Thus Far, introduced Dustin Sweatman in 2006.) Much like Journey This Far, Vintage Gospel includes a mix of hymns, classic convention songs, and songs Mark Trammell was known for other with other groups.

Mark Trammell reprises his rendition of his Cathedrals hit song “Sin Will Take You Farther.” He also performs a song that originally featured George Younce, “Hold On.”

Uptempo convention songs like “Leave Your Sorrows and Come Along” and “Sweetest Song I Know” reinforce something I’ve said before: The Mark Trammell Trio is the best quartet without a bass singer on the road today. Other trios, like the Booth Brothers, Voices Won, and the Bishops, have (or had) a sound that was so trio a bass singer just wouldn’t fit. But this group is a mega-quartet waiting to happen.

Joel Wood is featured on “Mansion Over the Hilltop” and “Hide Thou Me.” Particularly on “Mansion,” his voice tone is enough like Eric Phillips that a casual observer might hear the song and not even notice that there’s a new tenor. His voice doesn’t seem to be quite as high, and seems to have a more power-tenor mid-range (should the group choose to employ it). But he should have little problem with the group’s repertoire.

Dustin Sweatman keeps improving as a vocalist. This is most notable on the song “John Saw Me,” where he has an impressively smooth yet powerful solo.

It took a member change to prompt Journey This Far—one of the group’s best CDs to date. It took another member change to prompt this project. If this keeps up, the group might soon find their fans doing something incredibly odd: Hoping there will be a member change … so the group puts out another table project of this caliber!

But, truth be told, it would be far more sensible for the fans to do something that would work just as well: Purchase so many copies of this project that it doesn’t take a lineup change for them to put out the next one.

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

26 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. Now I just have to wait until they make it available online.

  2. Daniel, I searched for your review of “Journey Thus Far” with no luck. Did you write a review of that project?

    Which project would you say is better, “Journey Thus Far” or “Vintage Gospel”?

    I can’t wait to get this project!

    • That’s a hard call.

      I’m not sure, but I believe JTF came out before I started the blog.

  3. I agree that MTT would sound great as a quartet. In fact, they are a quartet (thanks to guest vocalist Joseph Brown of the Diplomats) on “Hide Thou Me”, and it is very good. I would love to see Mark add a bass singer. The Mark Trammell Quartet sounds good to me!

    • Woe is me. I listened to that track only once since I’m burnt out with that particular song. I can’t believe I missed that. ❗ 😮

  4. “Other trios, like the Booth Brothers, Voices Won, and the Bishops, have (or had) a sound that was so trio a bass singer just wouldn’t fit.”
    Have you listened to the Booth Bros “Going in Style” on Pure Southern Gospel project or “Jesus My Wonderful Lord” on the Jubilee project? Each has a bass singer and IMHO sounds very much like a quartet.

    • I’m not denying that either sounds good. But on “Goin’ in Style,” in particular, they sounded to me like a trio with a bass singer.

      They have a great sound, period. But I think their tight harmonies work best in the trio setting – it wouldn’t be the same with a bass.

      • Well that’s your take.

      • True.

  5. I hadn’t heard of this project yet. My dad has gotten pretty excited about some of MTT’s stuff – specifically the old/old-style songs. I guess I’ll keep this in mind at Christmas-time! (No worries, he doesn’t get online much.)

    • Then I think your father would *love* this.

  6. As far as the quartets without a bass singer discussion, I think each of the trios Daniel mentioned could be a quartet if they wanted too. However, they would have to adjust there song selection to such songs as those on “Goin In Style”, etc. In other words you could not just take your entire Booth Brothers collection, put it on shuffle and add a bass singer to any song that came on. You might get something like “Testify” (which I really like) that would not make a very good quartet song (IMO of course).

    • Practically any trio could sing with a bass singer. But many would have to change their arrangements and a few would even have to change the way they harmonize / blend.

      The Mark Trammell Trio wouldn’t have to change either.

  7. So … have they made this available yet?

    When I google it this is actually the first thing that comes up, and it isn’t on Amazon or at Springside.

    • No, Amy. I literally have checked their website multiple times a day for the past few weeks at least, and it’s not there. I talked to Mark on the phone about a month ago and he said it would be soon, but a month later it’s not there yet. I wonder if they know there are people like me out there who will gobble it up about 0.3 seconds after they finally see it online.

      • I should add that I think they do have it for sale at their concerts, but those of us who can’t go miss out.

      • Thanks … I was wanting to get it as a Christmas present, but obviously if it doesn’t appear in the next few days, that’s going to be off the table!

        I guess the “lucky few” who have it aren’t selling it used on Amazon yet, although it probably wouldn’t go for a reasonable price anyway.

      • Say, I wonder if I could order it over the phone from MTT?

      • I too have been looking for this for a while now…I’ve looked on ebay a ton of times and check their website several times a week.

      • I would give it a try. Let us know how it goes…and I may follow suit.

    • Just checked this morning, and it is now on their website. I ordered it by phone like Nick said a few days ago, but if anyone else is still wanting it, it’s on the web!

  8. And see… this is a HUGE problem with the Southern Gospel genre. Unlike most other genres, it can sometimes be downright impossible to try to download/buy mp3’s of your favorite music online. I really wish more groups would step up to the plate and offer downloadable versions of their music on their websites. There’s only a handful that do, and this makes it difficult to share that music with others, let alone bring new fans into the genre.

  9. Hey everyone, If you want to Order MTT “Vintage Gospel”, just call (256) 442-1621. The website store just hasn’t been updated with that particular CD on it yet. If you get the answering machine, just leave a message with your name and phone number, and that you are wanting to order Vintage Gospel.

    • Thanks for coming on and clearing that up!

      I was just going to post that phone would probably be best, but thanks for the definite word. 🙂

    • Thanks – I called earlier this afternoon. Looking forward to getting it! 🙂

    • Thanks, Nick. I will call probably tomorrow. I have been thinking about calling, but the only reason I haven’t is because Mark told me something about them getting a shipment in, then it would be online. I didn’t want to be a hassle, but now I know I won’t be. Thanks again!