Albums of Current Hits

Much has been made of a disappointing trend in Southern Gospel away from recording live albums. I do not refer to live videos of songs that the group has already made popular, but live albums introducing new songs, preferably with mostly live instrumentation.

In this column, I want to address another type of album I don’t want to see go away.

In the old days, groups would record table projects of two sorts: Albums of classic songs and albums with recent hits by other groups. Today, groups still record table projects with classic Southern Gospel songs and hymns. But the project of recent hits by other groups has virtually disappeared.

I’d like to see this kind of album return.

Let’s take a few minutes and think over some possibilities. Might you purchase albums with these songs?

Kingdom Heirs: God Handled it All (Gold City); We Will be Changed (Perrys); It’s Still True (Florida Boys); Overwhelming Joy (Inspirations); The Return (Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet); Damascus Road (Perrys); I Am Redeemed (Poet Voices);

Collingsworth Family: But for the Blood (Hoppers); There’ll Come a Day (Brian Free & Assurance); More Like Jesus (Gold City); The Depths of the Father’s Love (Kingdom Heirs); His Scars (Perrys); I Stand Redeemed (Legacy Five); God Wants to Hear You Sing (Greater Vision); Calvary Answers for Me (Perrys).

Prophets: I Have Been Changed (Legacy Five); Mighty Deep Well (Kingdom Heirs); He is to Me (Greater Vision); I Know I’m Going There (Kingdom Heirs); Paid in Full Through Jesus Amen (Greater Vision).

Perrys: I Don’t Wanna Go Back (Kingdom Heirs); Mighty Deep Well (Kingdom Heirs); I Have Been Changed (Legacy Five); Free to Go Home (Collingsworth Family); Forgiven Again (Signature Sound); One Holy Lamb (Poet Voices); Once Upon a Cross (Mark Trammell Trio).

Mark Trammell Trio: Walk Away Free (Perrys); The Voice I Could Not Resist (Greater Vision); I Will Find You Again (Perrys); One Holy Lamb (Poet Voices); In Time On Time Every Time (Gold City); A Wonderful Shepherd (Poet Voices); Until I Start Looking Ahead (Perrys).

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30 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Greetings. I’m not sure I follow…do you mean for (using your first example) the Kingdom Heirs to record “God Handled It All” et al because it was a hit for (e.g.) Gold City, even though Gold City’s album with that song is still available? Am I following correctly?

  2. I’m glad that trend faded out. Not many of the recent hits are all that great anyway.

  3. Levi,

    Oops! I’d forgotten about that. Let’s ignore that suggestion but keep the rest. 🙂

  4. This sounds like a good idea, especially the Kingdom Heirs and Mark Trammell Trio suggestions.

  5. Sorry – this idea just doesn’t appeal to me very much. I don’t particularly want to hear the Perrys doing songs from the Kingdom Heirs, etc., but I do enjoy it when a group puts out a compilation of their own hits.

  6. Some examples:
    Singing Americans Sing Gospel Hits
    Singing Americans 1984 Gospel Favorites
    Gold City Chartbreakers Vol 1 & 2

    A number of the cuts are better than those of the original artists.

  7. Dean,

    I actually had that last thought, but didn’t want to put it into the post for fear of sounding like I was putting down the original renditions!

  8. Another example, from my favorite group, is the Cathedrals’ 1975 Plain Ole Gospel.

    The songlist was: Glory Road; I’ve Been With Jesus; One Day At A Time; Tears Are A Language That God Understands; He’ll Hold My Hand; We’ll Soon Be Done With Troubles And Trials; What A Beautiful Day; I’ll See You In The Rapture; His Name Is Wonderful; Golden Toys.

    Almost all of these songs were current hits, but now they are classics…in large part because other groups started re-recording them and singing them.

  9. I always liked the title of the Oak Ridge Boys album “Songs We Wish We’d Recorded First” — no doubt of their intent.

    Also in the “old days” most groups recorded each others songs — check out the song lists on many of the early Skylite LPs (and they weren’t the only label doing this).

  10. Yeah, you’re right Dean, and a number of times they would all release the same songs for airplay. I remember looking at some of the charts, I think in the ’70s, when one song would have 3 different artists in the top 10, or 2 songs in the top 10 would have more than one artist singing the same song.

  11. I’d love to hear a performer with a more polished sound, say The Hoppers, record a song made popular by a less polished group. Imagine them doing an orchestrated version of the McKameys’ I’ve Won. Then The McKameys could take a crack at Jerusalem. Other performers I’d like to see join the mutual admiration society:

    The Inspirations and Gaither Vocal Band
    The Singing Cookes and The Talley Trio
    The Melody Trio and Hope’s Call
    Heirline and The Booth Brothers
    The Singing Echoes and Lordsong

    Any others?

  12. An artist could make some sales off these type of albums to newcomer fans or fans who are not familar with who recorded which song first. Some fans only know they like the song, but they have no idea who is singing it on the radio.

    The Dixie Melody Boys would make such records when McCray Dove was there. Ed would pull them out to sing on the program. McCray said when Ed would call the hit songs from other artists, McCray would just stand still and sing through the song – no stage presence. Why? Because he wanted to sell his group and their songs – not somebody elses.

    The point is if you did this album, don’t stage the songs. That’s cheesy. It’s a total different ball game if a member of the group helped in making the songs a hit with another group.

  13. Gold City has done this several times. Lord Do It Again and Having Fun.

    The Cathedrals did it with old classics on Radio Days… And even sang the Lesters’ “He Didn’t Throw The Clay Away” on Faithful!

  14. Don’t give away “One Holy Lamb” !
    Nobody could ever do that like Tony Jarman.
    But, to go along with this subject, he could have brought the song into Legacy Five’s repetroire. Or, now the Old Time Gospel Hour Qt. could sing it.
    Here’s some other examples: Palmetto State recorded a project in 2001 called “When He Blessed My Soul” It contains “That’s Why I Love To Call His Name”, which about a year before was a hit for The Kingdom Heirs.
    “I have “Shoutin’ Time” on CD’s by The Dixie Melody Boys, The Inspirations, and some other groups who recorded it all in the same timeframe (late 1970’s). All these were done over 20 years before The Hoppes cut it.

  15. Mary,

    You make some interesting points. But I do have one question. Didn’t Milan Kilpa record that with Poet Voices the year before Tony Jarman did?

    Actually, I put that as a question, but I have Milan’s rendition with the group the year before Tony joined. And if they had stuck to an original singer-only rule, we would never have gotten to hear Tony’s definitive take on the song!

    Also, if he started doing the song with the OTGHQ, that would be enough prompting for me to go to an OTGHQ concert just to see him do it.

    Part of my idea here is that I do not want to see the song die with the singer. If a song is classic quality–and I think “One Holy Lamb” is–once the original tenor stops singing it (and, to my knowledge, neither Milan or Tony kept singing it after leaving Poet Voices) then nobody is singing it.

    And in that light, I thought I’d enjoy an Eric Phillips rendition of the song.

  16. Daniel…
    Recently I have spent a lot of time examining many LP’s recorded by THE PROPHETS from ’59 to ’73. (Ed’s personal collection…still need to send info on these to DMB)
    This seemed to be a pretty common practice with TPQ over those years. I can’t speak for Ed Hill on this subject because we have never talked about this issue. From my perspective it seems that the most important factor is just trying to find songs that work for a group’s singers and audience. I am probably naive but it seems the 50’s and 60’s were decades when SG was a little more of a “kinder and gentler” genre…that may be nostalgia speaking.

    Daniel, I do think this is an interesting subject.
    A motto I learned early in my career as a composer seems appropriate here: “It’s THE song…it’s always THE song”

    Paul Jackson / The Prophets

  17. Thanks for stopping by! It’s the song, no question…but like you said, matching the right song with the right singer is unavoidably essential. 🙂

  18. Important…but not essential…IMO.
    “It’s the song…it’s ALWAYS the song”

  19. Furthermore…can we record “I Have Been Changed” ?

    PJ / TPQ

  20. …Really, we have some pretty neat songs…old and new…
    on our upcoming CD release…but if groups were doing each other’s tunes, we would do the L5 cut for sure!
    PJ / TPQ

  21. My first preference is for groups to introduce great new music, but covers can also be great IF a group puts their own twist on each song.

    From the time I first heard them in the mid-1980s, the Kingdom Heirs were by and large a “cover group.” The first recording of theirs that really caught my attention was _Feelin’ At Home_, a terrific little recording consisting of standards like “Just A Little Talk With Jesus,” “God Walks The Dark Hills,” “He Touched Me,” and “The Greatest Love Story.” “Hallelujah, I’m Going Home” may have been a new song at the time, I’m not sure…but all the others were covers. What set this release apart was the consistent, uniquely Kingdom Heirs vocal sound.

    A year earlier, they had released _Forever Gold_, which is less memorable…even though it introduced more new songs. They still included some covers such as “Love Will Roll The Clouds Away” and “I Want To Be Just Like You” (“borrowed” from “CCM” group, Phillips, Craig, and Dean).

    The success of _Feelin’ At Home_ influenced several more releases that followed. There’s _A Christian Family_, another recording consisting mostly of cover songs with one new song written by David Sutton.

    _Anchored_ also had a number of cover songs, but like _Feelin’ At Home_, it was again so good that people took notice.

    It wasn’t until 1999’s _A Journey Home_ that the Kingdom Heirs really began introducing great new songs to Southern Gospel music.

    In 2000, they released _City Of Light_ with mostly new songs, but the song that went out to radio from that CD was a cover, “I Love To Call His Name.” It was their first number one single on the Singing News charts.

    Covers have hit number one a few times since then for other groups. The Talley Trio had a number one with “I Love The Lord” in 2003, which I think was a cover…then Brian Free & Assurance had “Long As I Got King Jesus” in 2005. The Hoppers had “I’ve Come Too Far” in 2006.

    Ernie Haase & Signature Sound are giving it a try right now with “Get Away Jordan.”

  22. Er…actually, I first heard the Kingdom Heirs in the mid-1990s…slip of the finger.

  23. Daniel, “One Holy Lamb” was recorded originally by Tony Jarman on the Poet Voices cd, Vol. 5, Trust The Truth. Their next recording, the only PV recording with Milan, was Volume 6, Rhythm & Rhyme.

  24. Brandon,

    Thanks for the information! Sometimes the obvious escapes me.

  25. Another example of a cover song that just came to my mind is “He’s A Personal Saviour”. Gold City recorded it on their “Camp Meetin” CD in 2002, and Palmetto State did it on “One More Time” a few years ago. (That is a trio recording. They did it after Jeff Pearles left and Aarron McCune joned. Jason Brookes sang with them for, maybe a month or so, but I don’t think it’s his voice on the CD.
    So, does anyone know who did in the bass harmony on that???????)
    I’ve also heard many other groups do that song, including The Plainsmen, Dixie Melody Boys and Gaither Vocal Band, just to name a few.
    Gold City’s new single “I’m Rich” is another example. I have it on a casette called “The Kingsmen’s Favorite 10”
    That project also includes other songs made popular by others during the same time:
    “God On The Mountain”- McKameys
    “Champion of Love”- Cathedrals
    “Double Dose”- Dixie Melody Boys
    “I Lean On You Lord”- Perfect Heart ??

  26. Mary, Jason Brooks sang some bass parts on that PSQ CD and Andrew Ishee (believe it or not) sang others.

  27. McKameys…..doing.. “Jeursalem”????????????
    I couldn’t imagine that.
    Along the lines of this conversation, “20 Inspirational Favorites” by Greater Vision (copyright 1993) contains:
    Master Builder
    What A Meeting
    The Land Of Living
    Champion Of Love
    Sheltered In The Arms Of God
    Going Home
    Scars And Stripes

    Many of these had been in the then rescent past done by, or were still being sung by the Cathedrals.
    “Quartets” (GV also) has on it “I Didn’t Know”. After a year or two, the Kindom Heirs did it.
    “I’ll Meet You On The Mountain” ,recently heard by the Anchormen on radio came from The Lewis Family.
    The Dixie Melody Boys were still singing “Anchor of Hope” when the KH singled it. (I can’t imagine anyone ever doing that better than Andrew King did.)
    The OTGHQ has “When I Cross To The Other Side Of Jordan”on the radio now, which was penned by Ed O’Neal and sung also by the ‘Boys

  28. Here’s a question. Does anybody know if Gold City still stages “Hide Me Behind the Cross?” I know it was a hit for them at the time it came out, but it seems like it might have been retired. Per Daniel’s comment about not wanting the song to die with the singer, perhaps somebody should bring it back if Gold City won’t?

    • I don’t get the sense that they stage many songs from the Parrack/Wilburn era, just because it’s hard to sing those songs without Parrack and Wilburn. Cobb is a great power tenor, but Parrack’s probably got a few steps on him in the upper range.

      Of course, Parrack himself would have a hard time singing those songs these days. They were just arranged sky-high.

  29. Interesting Idea. However, how would you get the authentic “live” album w/out doing a concert “live”? Unless you did a venue like the Gaithers did w/their Amazing Grace Project. Full orchestra and all the singers. Just a thought.


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