A random Cathedrals observation

Have you ever noticed that people who say that the original Cathedrals lineup (Bobby Clark, Glen Payne, Danny Koker, George Younce) was their best also tend to not name the Cathedrals as their favorite group?

(Of course, the original lineup was very good, and it’s far from a bad thing to name another group as a favorite. I’m just putting this observation out there for comment to see if it holds true–to see if anyone else has noticed the same thing I have.)


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41 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Have you noticed that people who say that the last Cathedral lineup was their best also tend to name the Cathedrals as their favorite group? 😉

  2. Yes. 🙂

  3. This may be because of my youth, but i believe that the last CATS lineup was the best one. Or maybe the lineup with Gerald, George, Glen, Mark, and Danny. Close second. I just REALLY like the piano version of “Land of Living”…

  4. I think the lineup with Gerald was the best. As much as I loved Roger, Gerald’s voice set him apart. My favorite song by Gerald is still “The Longer I Serve Him” from his debut Cathedral LP, Land Of Living.

  5. Actually, I would think Brandon’s comment would ring truer. For the record, my favorite Cats lineup is either the Talley or Funderburk lineup, depending on which day you ask me, but my favorite group is Gold City.

  6. I would have to say that Talley, Trammell, Payne, Younce, and Bennett was truly the high point in the Cathedral time-line. Daniel, it is interesting that if a person says that the most recent is the best line up, it is also their favorite group.

  7. I have to that the Roger, Danny, and Mark line-up is my favorite. They are also my favorite all-time group.

    1. Cathedrals (Roger, Danny, and Mark)
    2. Cathedrals (Gerald, Danny, and Mark)
    3. Legacy Five (Post Josh Cobb)
    4. Cathedrals (Roger, Kirk, and Mark)
    5. Cathedrals (Roger, Ernie, and Scott)

  8. Actually in the original group you mentioned Bobby KOKER was Bobby CLARK. Typos tend to bring out our humanity, huh?

    In my humble opinion there were so many gifted singers and pianists who graced the Cathedrals over their many years of making great music. In the Couriers we worked with all of them and felt a close kinship with them as our brothers in the Lord. Of course they started out as a trio with Glen Payne, Danny Koker and Bobby Clark, only to add the lovable George Younce a couple of years later.

    Incidentally, the trio travelled in an ultra short Winnebago when they first broke away from the Weatherfords. They were a sight to behold but could they ever sing!

    My all-time favorite group? What day is it?

  9. Yes, typos do bring out our humanity. 🙂 The odd thing about that one is that I made the same mistake a few days ago in a post on one of the forums.

    Brandon–come to think of it, I have heard of quite a few people who name the Talley/Trammell/Bennett lineup as their favorite lineup who also name the Cathedrals as their favorite group. But your comment definitely has a lot of truth to it!

    My favorite lineup, I will admit, is their last, since it was that lineup that got me hooked on Southern Gospel. My second-favorite lineup is actually their Tremble/Webster/Cooley lineup from the mid and late 70s, followed closely by their 80s lineups. 🙂

  10. I think it has a lot to do with when you started listening to SG. In your case, Daniel, the Cats were very popular at the time you started listening and that lineup is naturally your favorite.

    On the other hand, for “oldtimers” who either predate the Cats or have lived through several iterations, the choice is not so obvious.

    The original group is probably my 2nd favorite, behind the Funderburk, Trammell, Wolfe group. At least for vocals. Overall sound with just the 4 singers, I would sub in Bennett at piano.

  11. Dig out your old “reunion” CD/VIDEO, I’ve just done it and liked the lot !
    George and Glen + whoever (well almost) would have sounded GOOD to me……. – guess my 30ft Burstner is small in USA Winnebago terms !

  12. My first SG ALBUM (Then and Now) was with the Tremble/Webster/Cooley lineup. I got as a gift from my parents in 1979. While I think that this group was VERY GOOD, they were still not my favorite line-up, eventhough they were my first. I would have to put them at #5 on my “Cathedrals Line-Up List”. #6 on my all time favorite group list. And yes, 5 different Cathedral line-ups are in my “All Time Favorites List”…see my post above. 🙂

  13. Do we have a generation gap here?
    This blog’s generation gap is not as bad a gap as another blogger’s site where a couple of well known observers calls the latest offering by an artist a album instead of a project.
    You know, we have to be correct in all things.

  14. I happen to use the term “album” quite often. 🙂 I don’t consider it incorrect, but rather as a generic term. 🙂

  15. I vote for Funderburk, Trammell, and Bennett, with my favorite video being “An Evening With The Cathedrals” from 1985 – no tracks, but one of the best renditions of “Then Came The Morning” and “The Prodigal Son” I’ve ever heard.

  16. I agree with QuartetFan. Kind of like the age old debate of who is the best James Bond ever. I say Roger Moore because he was Bond when I started watching the movies and my Dad says Sean Connery for the same reason. By the way, my favorite Cats lineup is Danny, Mark, and Gerald. Although Ernie, Scott, and Roger were pretty awesome.

  17. OFF TOPIC: I don’t think I’ve ever been able to watch an entire Roger Moore Bond movie. I actually like all the Bonds except him.

  18. Whoever wrote the Wikipedia definition of “album” believes it includes CDs and other types of media in addition to LPs.

    “An album may be released in a single format, such as on compact disc, or in multiple media formats, ranging from physical ones such as CDs, DVD audio, cassettes and vinyl records, to digital ones such as MP3 and AAC files or streaming audio.”

  19. What you said make a lot of sense. Imagine that!

    If you really consider what you’re saying, this comment is a “no brainer”.

    Those of us that think the Clark, Koker, Younce, Payne group of Cats also were able to compare them to the Toney/Rozell/Ott/Wetherington/Lister version of Statesmen, the Shaw/Blackwood/Blackwood/Sumner/Gleason version of Blackwoods, the Wynn/Gatlin/Golden/Harper/Fairchild Oaks, the Daniel/Fagg/Crowe/Strevel/Gates Blue Ridge’ and the Nielsen/Hess/McSpadden/Morales/Slaughter Imperials.

    Let’s compare apples with apples.

    Given this “competition”, the original Cats would rank at least a distant fifth in the race.

    However, in comparison to other conglomerations of the Cathedral Quartet, Clark was by far the finest tenor and Koker’s skills at the piano coupled with his piano work and emcee techniques places him far above other men who have assumed this position.

    That being said, if you compare apples with apples, the original Cats reigned supreme over the later groups, but compared to the other top groups of their day, they were only more than adequate.

    However, if you compare them with the groups that were on par with the Haase, Payne, Fowler, Younce, and Bennet group, then the original group would blow them away.

  20. John, at least we agree on one point: The original Cathedrals lineup was a great quartet. 🙂

    Come to think of it, we actually agree on a second point: The original Cathedrals were one of the finest groups of their day. 🙂

  21. It really didn’t seem to matter who was with the Cats, every group as far back as I can remember they all had a good smooth harmony.

    Daniel, hope you don’t mind me inserting this, if Neil Enloe would contact me I’d like to know more about the Couriers. Thanks.
    I can be reached at BLarry828@aol.com

  22. David Bruce Murray…not sure if I understand your post about the definition of album, but it does include more than just LPs.

  23. I don’t mind. The Couriers were a great group. 🙂

  24. Daniel, you and John don’t agree on the second point. You said, “The original Cathedrals were one of the finest groups of their day.” John said “they were only more than adequate.” The two quotes say different things to me.

    I’ve never heard the original Cathedrals lineup, so I’ll be quite now.

  25. You have a good point. Sorry, John!

  26. Paul,
    See the comment by GospelMusicFan where he says it’s improper to refer to a current release using the term “album.”

  27. David Bruce Murray…I see that now, sorry. Education is best. LPs, CDs, and so on are considered “albums.” Dated as the term may be to some.

  28. Count me also among those who feel the original Cathedrals was easily the finest version of that great quartet.

    But if you’ll notice, Daniel, many of us who feel that way about the original Cathedrals also don’t rate them as among the top five quartets of their era.

    I would also add the Nicholson/Enloe/Baldwin/Kyllonen/Young version of the Couriers to John Crenshaw’s list of premier quartets of that period.

    But you would expect that from me, Daniel, wouldn’t you?:-)

  29. I’ll join in with the “original” fans and say that the early days of the Cathedrals were without doubt their finest, musically. George, Glen, Danny, and Bobby were nothing short of magnificent and rivaled many of the groups of their day. Also, the following group with George, Glen, George Amon, and Mack follows close behind.

    Also, I would be of the argument that between pianists Danny Koker, Lorne Matthews, Haskel Cooley, Gerald Wolfe, and Roger Bennett….Bennett was probably the least of the 5, yet he was by far the most popular. While I don’t believe that Bennett possessed the seemingly endless talent that Koker, Matthews, Cooley, and Wolfe had at the keys, he still had that magic “less-is-more” touch, and it the Cathedral Quartet like a glove.

  30. I’ll join in with the “original” fans and say that the early days of the Cathedrals were without doubt their finest, musically. George, Glen, Danny, and Bobby were nothing short of magnificent and rivaled many of the groups of their day. Also, the following group with George, Glen, George Amon, and Mack follows close behind.

    Also, I would be of the argument that between pianists Danny Koker, Lorne Matthews, Haskel Cooley, Gerald Wolfe, and Roger Bennett….Bennett was probably the least of the 5, yet he was by far the most popular. While I don’t quite believe that Bennett possessed the seemingly endless talent that Koker, Matthews, Cooley, and Wolfe had at the keys, he still had that magic “less-is-more” touch, and it fit the Cathedral Quartet like a glove.

  31. I for one like to call all “projects” albums.
    As for the Cathedrals, my opinion is that their prime was between (correct me if the dates are wrong) 1974-1979 with Roy Tremble, George Webster, and Haskell Cooley.
    Pull out your copies of “The Cathedral Quartet Sings Albert E Brumley Classics” and “Live In Concert”. This lineup had an undeniable energy together that’s hard to find any comparision to, even rivaling and surpassing the Kingsmen in their prime.

  32. In reference to comment #10 . . .

    The first time I saw the Cathedrals, it was a four man group with George, Glen, George Amon Webster, and Mack Tauton. If I remember correctly, they were the second finest group on the program behind the Imperials. Smooth singing. . .

    However, this wasn’t my favorite group of Cathedrals even though it was the first group of them I ever heard. I’d never even heard one of their records at this point in time.

    I was probably a bit hard on the original group with my “only more than adequate” comment. However, in that time frame, the overall quality from the top groups at that time was much stronger than in later years. Obviously, the cream rose to the top with the Cathedrals during the 80s.

  33. I am posting this not on experience but what I have heard from LPs. (I was born late 79) I have three favorite groups of all times: Statesmen, Cathedrals, and Melody Masters. I would rank them in that order. If you look at the longevity of the career, that changes that lineup. I think the best groups that the Statesmen had were pre-Rosie. The best that I have heard is the “Cat” Freeman lineup. Being a singer, the Statesmen RCA 1605 LP is practically perfect vocally. Notes, diction, vowel sounds, harmony are all top. You would be hard pressed to find something that tops their arrangement of “When My Master Walks With Me.” And that is a tough song to sing all modern harmony.

    The Cathedrals were tops vocally and with their arrangements in the Bobby Clark and Danny Koker days. With Brass and With Strings were a couple of the best LPs done. A couple of my favorite songs are Teach Me Lord To Wait and Hide Thou Me. Now if you are talking about longevity that ranks them higher. I think in the Danny Funderburk and Ernie Haase Days, because they were top in the industry, they had more power to pull top songs. They weren’t bad vocally but just not as good as the first quartet.

    And allow me to step up on my box for just a moment. The reason I like a lot of the earlier groups so much better is less electronic equipment. We are in a day where a singer or a group that is average can walk into a studio and walk out sounding like a million bucks. This is normally done through orchestration, pitch correction software, or vocal enhancements. Back in the day, they had to be able to do the pitch correction themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I am a computer geek myself. But I just hate the fact that it is compensating for a lot of things that aren’t there.

    I am stepping down now. And to not run the risk of not sounding 50 years older than what I really am, I like modern groups to. Some of my favorite modern groups are Signature Sound, Tribute Quartet, Triumphant Quartet, Talley Trio, Gaither Vocal Band, Gold City (the last installment) Hope’s Call, Booth Brothers, and Valor

  34. My favorite line-up of the Cathedrals is from the early 1980s…Trammell/Talley/Bennett/Payne/Younce. That was their best sounding group, in my opinion. Of course, a degree of my opinion may be due to me being in high school during the 1980s. They say you never grow tired of the music of your youth. Another degree may be due to the fact that advances in technology allowed recordings of the 1980s to take on a more pristine quality.

    I did enjoy the final line-up of the group, but that was primarily because of Younce’s skill in addressing the crowd.

    By that point in time, their most requested songs monopolized the set list. I’d just as soon have gone to hear George tell more jokes and skipped a few of the songs (“Oh What A Savior” is a good song, but it was already done to death by the Cats before every other quartet of the 1990s did it to death as well.)

    As for considering the Cathedrals my favorite group, they were always near the top of my list, but I wouldn’t place them in first.

    For most of the 1990s, I preferred the Gaither Vocal Band. That unique combination of Phelps and Penrod is hard for any group from any era to top. Also, I was always in line to hear JD Sumner & The Stamps…not because they could out-sing the Cathedrals from top to bottom (which they couldn’t), but because Sumner was a talented comedian with a freakish skill.

    My favorite quartet from the 1980s is Gold City.

    I’d have a real difficult time choosing between the Stamps and the Imperials of the 1970s for the top slot…probably lean toward the Imperials, though. I also love some of the old Kingsmen recordings from that decade, though they were anything but smooth.

    Of the 1950s and 1960s groups, I’d have a difficult time choosing between quartets like the Cathedrals, Oak Ridge Boys, and Blackwood Brothers for second place, but there’s no question about the first…the Statesmen reigned supreme in those days.

  35. At this moment, I’m hearing the second verse and chorus of “Rise Again”, performed by the Cathedrals on “Live With The Cathedral Quartet” (released 1979). I am blown away by Lorne Matthews’ piano and Roy Tremble’s vocal talents being displayed on this song!
    Although I perferr Cooley’s style, and I think Matthews’ accompainment slightly changed the group’s sound and style, nevertheless that group is wonderfll! It makes me want to start “shoutin’ glory” hearing Glenn do “The Prodical Son” at the beginning of that album. He was on fire, and the audience seemed just as excited.
    No one could deliver a song like Glen.

  36. I’m sure I’m very late in this discussion, but the Tremble, Webster, Cooley lineup was the first I’d ever heard from the Cathedrals. This is the first group I heard in concert and Then and Now was the first recording that I bought. While I would never want to rate one group above the other (they were all great), I think there was a great blend between the voices of Roy Tremble and Glen Payne. No where is this more clearly heard than on the duet they sang on the song “I Owe It All to Thee.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone ever discuss this unique blend of voices. The blend was the best factor of this particular lineup.

  37. I’d love to hear them sing that song … I assume it’s the same one the Kingsmen did.

    I downloaded “More to Go to Heaven For” from iTunes a while back, and I think it featured Tremble. There’s no arguing that he was great.

  38. The Tremble lineup did it in ’76 (Easy on the Ears, Heavy on the Heart), and the Kirk Talley lineup did it a few years later.

  39. I think the best lineup was with Danny, Mark, and Roger, with Danny, Mark, and Gerald being a close second. I don’t know, it’s tough. I liked Roger’s piano playing (he’s my all-time favorite pianist), but Gerald’s voice. But without question Danny was the best tenor they ever had and Mark Trammell the best baritone.

  40. For me, I was first introduced to them around the Talley/Trammell/Bennett era. That would likely still be my favourite. Second would have to be the final lineup they had. Of course, I’ve got recordings from all eras…..the stability of Glen/George gave the sound a certain consistency through all the changes. Even with Glen somewhat hidden on the baritone, his presence/tone was there.

    That may almost be an entirely different discussion, but I would have to include Glen in the “best baritone the Cathedrals had” category. He could deliver the punch when on lead, but in a more supportive role as baritone, he could blend in superbly. Man, I miss the Cathedrals….