CD Review: “The Way it Used to Be” (Blackwood Quartet)

2008bqwayitusedtobe.jpgThis 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.

Rating: Enjoyable.

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4 Letters to the Editor

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  1. So this was recorded before John Rulapaugh and Rick Fair joined the group?

  2. Yes, this is quite some time before John and Rick. I have followed the Blackwood Organizations for years. They always put together good groups. Not sure if they can’t get back into the main stream, or don’t want to get back into the main stream.

  3. This is Ron Blackwood, owner, MC/Baritone for the Blackwood Quartet, featured on “The Way It Used To Be.” This project was recorded in 2005, and features Steve Warren, (Tenor and Piano), R.W. Blackwood, Jr. (Lead), Ron Blackwood, (Baritone), and two bass singers were recorded: Nic Val (formerly of the Statesmen) and Paul Hyde. The CD was never released commercially. It was just a dream of mine to do produce a good recording featuring the songs Grandma and Grandpa sang… the way they liked them! There are no overdubs of other groups. This is was a “from scratch” project. I sincerely hope everyone enjoys it. I truly appreciate the review and all you have done! Bless you. Come see us in Pigeon Forge! You’ll love hearing our newest additions: Rick Fair and John Rulapaugh!

  4. The Bass vocals you mentioned were done by me Nic Val. Through the years i have been the Bass vocalist for Wayne Newton, The Statesmen, and the Blackwood Quartet Check out NIC VAL on you tube and get a deeper history and perhaps you will appreciate the Bass vocals. Thanx so much. As a note Steve Warren and i have worked in a total of 5 groups together and recorded some 158 albums as backup. I have also been a national voice over actor in Movie Trailers, TV ads and radio. My last longstanding gig was with Tony Bennett as opening act. It would be nice if you went in and rewrote the credits in your article THANX SO MUCH, NIC VAL and keep up the good work!!!!!


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