CD Review: “The Way it Used to Be” (Blackwood Quartet)
This project is the most recent complete recording from the Blackwood Quartet. It is actually several years old, but just came to my attention when it was added to Springside’s newly available titles. (A newer project with several tracks from the current lineup is scheduled to be reviewed tomorrow.)
Since there are several groups with the Blackwood name, it seems every review of a Blackwood project needs to be prefaced with an explanation of just which Blackwood group it is. There are three major Blackwood groups today; Jimmy Blackwood, son of James Blackwood, runs the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. Mark Blackwood, son of Cecil Blackwood, runs the Blackwood Gospel Quartet. The Blackwood Quartet (the group being reviewed) and Blackwood Singers are run by Ron and R.W. Blackwood, sons of the R.W. Blackwood.
Ron and R.W. Blackwood perform with their wives as the Blackwood Singers, a mixed group. They also hire a tenor and bass–for this project, Steve Warren and Paul Hyde–and perform some numbers as the Blackwood Quartet. (Mike LoPrinzi apparently also sang some baritone tracks on the project.)
This project features nineteen Southern Gospel classics. The project is produced in a fairly simple, piano-and-vocals style. Though the session pianist is not credited, he (or she) is a master at this style of accompaniment, doing enough fills and runs that it didn’t actually register that piano was the only accompaniment until my third or fourth listen through the project.
Fans of Steve Warren should especially like this project, as he is featured on numerous tracks, most memorably “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “He Hideth My Soul,” and “It is Well With My Soul.”
Although Paul Hyde may never have become one of the most recognized names in Southern Gospel, his bass tone is well-rounded and his range is wide. His range is particularly showcased on “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” [UPDATE, 12/21/2012: Nic Val has posted a comment indicating that the bass vocals were his instead.]
Fans of classic piano-and-vocals Southern Gospel quartet singing will particularly enjoy this project.
Available from: Springside.