CD Review: Jubilee 2 (Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, Legacy Five)
At this point, it would be safe to declare the 2008 joint Legacy Five / Greater Vision / Booth Brothers recording Jubilee a resounding success. Not only did it generate a steady buzz then and since, and spawn a number of live concerts, it was named the Album of the Year in the 2010 Singing News Fan Awards. Following its success, the three groups involved made a logical decision to serve up a second helping.
The project kicks off with “Jesus is Coming Soon,” a song well suited to ensemble singing. The second track, the 1956 Speer Family song “Sing Me a Song About Jesus,” features an ensemble, highlighting the tenors, Chris Allman, Michael Booth, and Gus Gaches, and an uncredited step-out part from Glenn Dustin.
Jim Brady wrote one of the two new songs, “Don’t Hang Your Head and Cry.” The aim of the new songs was to fit the classic style seamlessly; the music does, though the lyrics feel modern enough to be worthy of note. The Booth Brothers provide most of the prominent vocals (and the solos, except for one line from Glenn Dustin); Legacy Five offers tastefully arranged background lyrics.
Legacy Five steps up for the fourth song, another Speer Family classic, “I Never Shall Forget the Day.” The track, though more driving than one would expect for the song and the overall feel of the project, ends up working well and being a solid highlight for the project.
Greater Vision turns to the catalog of the Lanny Wolfe Trio for a largely forgotten track, “My House is Full (But my Field is Empty).” Gerald Wolfe delivers a somber and thought-provoking solo. The lyrics do prompt an interesting theological question; one line contains the familiar catchphrase “win the lost at any cost.” It’s an assertion that sounds unimpeachable at first glance, but does provoke questions. Does “any cost” justify using any method, whether or not it falls within Biblically justifiable methods? (One example that comes to mind is “bait and switch,” attracting someone with promises of “name it and claim it” or another monetary pitch.) I think not. Does it justify (for those who are already parents) not allotting time to discipling children He has already given? Either side of the question is sobering.
The other new song, “Undeserving,” was written by Rodney Griffin and features the entire ensemble. Lyrically and musically, it fits the classic feel.
One largely untapped potential in this series is the possibility of creating custom, never-before-seen trios and quartets. Michael Booth, Scott Fowler, Gerald Wolfe, and Glenn Dustin form a scrap iron quartet on “When I Wake Up to Sleep No More”—though “scrap iron” is somewhat of a misnomer, as “titanium” or “platinum” would be more appropriate for the end result.
The Booth Brothers offer the project’s only acapella track, “Crown Him King / He’s My King,” brilliantly arranged and executed.
Legacy Five is featured on “Every Day,” offering jazzy, smooth harmonies on the Henry Slaughter-penned classic. Gus Gaches and Scott Fowler offer well-executed solos.
“When They Ring the Bells of Heaven,” one of the most straight-ahead convention-style barn-burners on the project, is excellently rendered by Greater Vision.
The baritones—Jim Brady, Scott Howard, and Rodney Griffin—are featured as a trio on the closing track, “I’m Free Again.” Their blend is exceptionally tight. Glenn Dustin has (more) uncredited bass solo lines.
So is Jubilee Two the end of a passing fad, or a second step toward establishing a brand? Let’s hope it’s the latter, because this is a series that deserves to see many more entries.
Produced by: Gerald Wolfe. • Group Members: Greater Vision (Chris Allman, Gerald Wolfe, Rodney Griffin), Booth Brothers (Michael and Ronnie Booth, Jim Brady), Legacy Five (Gus Gaches, Scott Fowler, Scott Howard, Glenn Dustin, Tim Parton). • Review copy provided. • Song list: Jesus is Coming Soon; Sing Me a Song About Jesus; Don’t Hang Your Head and Cry; I Never Shall Forget the Day; My House is Full (but my Field is Empty); Undeserving; When I Wake Up to Sleep No More; Crown Him King / He’s My King; Every Day; When They Ring the Bells of Heaven; I’m Free Again. • Average song rating: stars. Average song rating (mode): 4 stars. CD rating: 4.5 stars.