Classic CD Review: Heaven (Gold City)
Heaven came out five years ago. Typically, that would be a little too soon to feature it in a classics column, but since it’s now two tenors, a lead singer, and two bass singers ago, perhaps it is time.
This was Gold City’s first recording after Tim Riley’s departure, and their only recording with Bill Lawrence. Let’s face it—Tim Riley was a legend, and nobody could be Tim Riley. It seems Lawrence picked up a bad rap in some quarters for who he wasn’t. But, as I’ve contended before, he was far better than he was given credit for. He could hold his own on vocals, pumping out solid low notes down to the lowest A-flat on the piano or lower. But his biggest strength was his stage presence; he conveyed through facial expressions and overall confidence that he was having the time of his life, and couldn’t be happier than to be singing to that night’s audience.
Of course, the rest of the vocal lineup on the record was indisputably top-notch; Steve Ladd sang tenor (this is back when he still sounded like Brian Free), Jonathan Wilburn was on lead, and Danny Riley was on baritone.
In song selection and execution, this recording is on par with any other Gold City table project (i.e., Camp Meeting, Havin’ Fun). Convention classics “My Non Stop Flight to Glory Land” and “Way Down Deep in My Soul” became concert staples for the group for several years. Steve Ladd showcased his versatility on a subdued ballad, “Without a Word.” Bill Lawrence turned in a strong rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger.” And the project opened and closed with strong uptempo tracks, “Heaven” and “I’ve Got a Feeling.”
This was their final project with a live band. The arrangements, made to be played by a band in a live concert setting, were more in line with previous Gold City projects than with their New Haven releases since.
This recording, as well as several other out-of-print and hard-to-find Gold City titles, is available from Christian Digital Downloads. (They provided a review digital copy for this review.)
Overall rating: 4.5 stars. ♦ Average song rating: 4. ♦ Song list: Heaven; Way Down Deep In My Soul; Without a Word; Well of Grace; My Hiding Place; Non Stop Flight to Glory Land; I’m Never Alone; Still Small Voice; Wayfaring Stranger; I’ve Got a Feeling. Personnel list: Steve Ladd, Jonathan Wilburn, Danny Riley, Bill Lawrence, [band].