DVD Review: The Best of the Jubilee Years (Dixie Echoes)
In 1997, Bill Gaither released the Dixie Echoes’ entry in the Best of the Jubilee Years series. This was recently re-issued on DVD.
As the title suggests, the footage is culled from the Dixie Echoes’ numerous appearances on the Gospel Singing Jubilee TV series. Some of the footage is in (faded) color; other is in black and white. Though there is some image deterioration, the image quality is overall decent.
Unlike some Gaither compilations, there is no commentary between songs. This is overall a plus (for this particular project), but subtitles indicating which lineup was on each song would have been nice.
The studio setting doesn’t quite capture the charisma the Dixie Echoes would convey on the live concert stage. But it is still enjoyable and worth purchasing, if for no other reason than this: So many Southern Gospel legends came through the group in the 60s and 70s, and this is rare footage of them live in that era. Take Tim Riley on “After Awhile,” or Larry Ford on a number of songs, or J.G. Whitfield on some of the earlier, black-and-white footage. Ken Turner is featured on the classic “How Big is God,” a song frequently identified with the Blackwood Brothers, a year or two before he joined them. It’s also fun to watch Randy Shelnut’s stage presence and voice improve over the multi-year period from which this footage is culled. Of particular note is “Because He Lives,” where his voice is unmistakably recognizable to anyone who has heard it more recently.
This is an excellent compilation, worth 4.5 stars. The audio quality is excellent, and at over 25 songs, one can’t complain over a too-limited selection. There were only two reasons a half-star was deducted from the maximum possible score. First, in an unusual slip for a Gaither project, the song list on the cover is a typographical mess, with multi-letter strings randomly pulled from one song title and inserted in another. Second, if the technology hasn’t yet been invented, hopefully one of these days technology will be invented which allows television footage from the era to be cleaned up, with edge bleed and other artifacts removed.
But those are minor quibbles. Overall, this is an excellent project, a welcome addition to the collection of any fan of Southern Gospel music from that era.
Rating: 4.5 stars. ♦ Produced by: David Armstrong. ♦ Available from: Artist. Review copy provided. ♦ Song list: My Non-Stop Flight to Gloryland; Oh Happy Day; He’ll Pilot Me; After Awhile; Because He Lives; How Big is God; I Gave Up Misery; More than Just a Swear Word; I Can Tell You the Time; I’ve Been Born Again; Give Up; I Will Serve Thee; I Must Tell Jesus; One Day at a Time; Good Old Gospel Song; I’m Free; Mama’s Teaching Angels How to Sing; Little is Much; Now I Have Everything; On the Jericho Road; Talk About Jesus; Living By Faith; On the Way Home; Peace in the Valley; Walk With Me; We’ll Soon Be Done with Troubles and Trials.