DVD Review: Sing Out America Vol. 2 (Blackwood Brothers)

Earlier this year, Mansion Entertainment started reissuing archival footage from the Sing Out America television series. Volume 1, reviewed here, featured ten songs from ten different groups. This volume also includes ten songs, five from the featured group (the Blackwood Brothers), two from the Dixie Echoes, and three from the Speer Family.

  • I Never Gave Up (Blackwood Brothers). This was originally recorded on their We Come to Worship (1980) project; Jimmy Blackwood sings lead (and has the solo), Cecil Blackwood sings baritone, and tenor Pat Hoffmaster and bass Ken Turner round out the lineup.
  • Following You (Blackwood Brothers). Tenor Pat Hoffmaster has the feature; the song is from the same session as the first.
  • I’m Standing On The Solid Rock (Speer Family). Ben Speer and Harold Lane have the featured solos here; Brock Speer and two other ladies, one of whom is doing double duty at piano and alto round out the lineup. Faded colors seem to indicate that the footage is several years older, perhaps late ’70s.
  • The Church Of The Living God (Speer Family). The outfits would indicate that the taping is from the same day as the earlier track, but the audio is noticeably different. At least some of the footage in this series was recorded with the actual audio drawn from recordings, and the video taping being of the singers lip-syncing to the recordings; that could be the case here, with the audio tracks pulled from two different recordings.
  • Let Jesus Happen To You (Blackwood Brothers). This song features Ken Turner and is from the same recording session as the group’s first two songs on the project.
  • To God Be The Glory (Blackwood Brothers). Though credited “Blackwood Brothers, featuring Jimmy Blackwood,” in point of fact, Blackwood sings the song without the remainder of the quartet, backed up by invisible (presumably pre-recorded) background singers.
  • Dig A Well (Dixie Echoes). The lineup on the two Dixie Echoes songs is Eddie Broome, Dale Shelnut, Randy Shelnut, and Randy Allred. Since Broome was only with the group from 1982-83, these would have to have been recorded in the last year or so of Dale Shelnut’s life. Though the cover lists the song as “The Dixie Echoes, Featuring Dale Shelnut,” in point of fact, Randy Allred has the solo. These songs appear to have been taped for real, not lip-synched. (Either that, or the Dixie Echoes were incredible lip-synchers.)
  • I Will Praise Him (Dixie Echoes) Dale Shelnut has the solo here—on a lyric especially poignant given the near proximity of the taping to his death.
  • Stand By Me (Speer Family). The audio mix/ambience matches the Speers’ middle song on the video, “The Church of the Living God.”
  • How Great Thou Art (Blackwood Brothers). Jimmy Blackwood has the feature on this song; though done by many groups over the years, it has been done so many times by the Blackwood Brothers over the years that their renditions are among the first to come to mind when the song is mentioned.

This series seems to be a grab bag of Southern Gospel video recordings—some of which are technically deficient for one reason or another, even if the singing is magnificent, and others of which are hidden gems.

Available from: Mansion. ♦ Review copy provided.

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