CD Review: Golden Celebration (Dixie Echoes)

The Dixie Echoes were launched by J.G. Whitfield in 1960; 2010 marks their fiftieth anniversary. This recording, commemorating the milestone, features about half songs new to the group and half songs the group has recorded before. Songs the group has recorded before include two Singing News Fan Awards top ten nominees for Song of the Year, “Suddenly a Rainbow” and “Lord, Lead Me Home.” They also revisit “I’ll Take Jesus,” a song that was a radio hit for the group in 1976, and concert favorite “The Devil and His Old Suitcase.”

Most of the Dixie Echoes’ recordings over the last ten or fifteen years have introduced a new tenor or bass singer, and Golden Celebration is no exception, introducing Trent Adams. He is featured on the old standby “Child of the King,” recorded frequently by bass singers for generations, and a lesser-known track penned by George Younce, “Your Sins Will Find You Out.” He also sings one of the verses on “I’ll Shake the Hand of the Lord.” Adams appears to be a solid choice to follow the path marked out by Tracy Crouch and Pat Barker, bass singers with a solidly melodic tone who could go low when needed but frequently stay in higher, more melodic territory.

The packaging is very well done, including two elements that are huge pluses, though all-too-often ignored—lyrics and a list of group members, identifying each by name and part sung. Songwriter credits are included, which is also a plus, but publishing information is not.

The project’s largely acoustic instrumentation and unadorned power harmonies are a welcome break from driving brass, compressed vocals, and vocal stacks. Golden Celebration is a relaxing delight, a simple pleasure.

Produced by: Stewart Varnado, Randy Shelnut Jr., Randy Shelnut. • Group Members: Wesley Smith, Randy Shelnut, Randy Shelnut Jr., Trent Adams, Stewart Varnado. • Review copy provided. • Song list: Lord Lead Me Home; I Am a Pilgrim; Crumbs from the Table; Devil and His Old Suitcase; Child of the King; I’ll Shake the Hand of the Lord; Suddenly a Rainbow; I’ll Take Jesus; Unworthy; Your Sins Will Find You Out. • Average song rating: 3.5 stars. CD rating: 4 stars.

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15 Letters to the Editor

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  1. My wife and I saw the DE a few months ago and I was blown away! Many groups do the two mics and no tracks bit as a part of their program, but it was refreshing to have a whole concert in that format. One thing my wife mentioned to me was how she thought that Trent Adams sounds a lot like Tim Duncan from EHSS. Do you get that impression at all?

  2. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this album. Glad you reviewed it.

    BTW, anyone know if Tracy Crouch is still singing?

    • I believe he is, in a regional group with former Dixie Melody Boys baritone Andrew King.

  3. This is one of the groups that should have downloads available. I just can’t afford to keep with my 2-3 favorite groups and still by much more music, but I splurge on single songs once in a while. And I really respect the Dixie Echoes and listen to their music when I get a chance.

  4. The Dixie Echoes do have downloads available on their website. 🙂

    • Really? I have to confess, I never even checked – I didn’t expect it. I will do so soon. (Not right now, just because I’m at work.)

  5. Trent Adams reminds me of Tim Duncan. I like his voice a lot.

    Are you sure that song is called “Your Sins Will Find You Out?” I thought it was called “You Better Pray,” but maybe I’m thinking of another one.

    • I’m thinking it’s the same song, but since people often tend to associate the last line of the chorus with a song title, it would make sense here.

  6. Wow. Just listened to “Child of the King” from this project. Trent really does sound exactly like Tim Duncan. I will keep my eye on him for sure.

    • Speaking of Tim Duncan reminds me of a question I wanted to ask:

      What’s all this chat on Avery about smoking gospel singers? Sadly, on sound and even looks, JD I mabe could believe – also quoted, but “big name current bass singers”? Pray who?

      I can understand how, possibly, a bass singer might think a drag could drop him a note or two, BUT lead singers? In gospel music?

      Is there a big can of worms here, or is it all a-very-bad-taste rumour?

      • David, I did a slight edit, since I’m uncomfortable with naming specific current names here – but, to answer your question, regrettably, yes, some bass singers smoke (and assuredly a few at other parts, too.)

    • He does?

      • Yes Josh. In fact, if I didn’t know that it was Trent, and somebody just rolled the clip for me, I would say “That’s Tim, of course.” The only giveaway is that he’s a little less solid on the low notes.

      • Well, that, and more melodic on the upper ones. But that’s the typical trade-off, right there!

      • It seems to me that bass singers who have a particularly smooth upper register either don’t have a whole lot of “cut” at all or sound really growly in their lower register. Of course there are exceptions. But I would definitely say, to use example, that George sounded growlier in his lower register than Timmy, yet George had a much fuller upper register.

        The great thing about Tim is that even though he doesn’t have the fullest upper register, and even though he’s not the most floor-rattling low-notes specialist, he successfully manages to combine the best of both worlds for a steadily pleasing sound.