Classic CD: Georgia Live (Kingsmen)

Rating: 5 (of 5)

Average Song Rating: 4.3 (of 5)

Song List: Give the World a Smile; Moses; Behold the Master Cometh; I’ll Pray For You; Mention the Name; In the Garden; Wicked Path of Sin; Beautiful Star of Bethlehem; What Did He Ever See In Me; First Step; Little is Much; The Son Will Rise.

Available from: Crossroads.

***

Georgia Live, released by the Kingsmen in 1995, has been out of print for several years. It was recently reissued digitally by Crossroads as part of a series of discounted reissues ($7.99 instead of the standard cost of $9.99 for a new digital album).

Like any good Kingsmen live project, Georgia Live kicks off with a convention song, in this case “Give the World a Smile.” After a decent mid-tempo song, “Moses,” Eldridge Fox was featured on the album’s first major highlight, “Behold the Master Cometh.” The song was inspired by a trip Fox took to the Holy Land, specifically when a backwoods Tennessee preacher read from John at Lazarus’ tomb.

After a string of several songs, “I’ll Pray for You” (featuring Jim Hamill), “Mention the Name” (featuring Chris Collins), and “In the Garden” (featuring Randy Miller), the Kingsmen Band sang a bluegrass arrangement of “Wicked Path of Sin.”

“Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” featured a classic Kingsmen slow-it-down and embellish-the-notes encore.

Tim Surrett sang “What did He Ever See in Me,” a song with a soundtrack. When introducing the song, Hamill emphasized how important live accompaniment was to him (and the Kingsmen style). This is somewhat interesting retrospectively, since today’s Kingsmen sing their entire program with soundtracks.

Another project highlight was Chris Collins’ rendition of “Little is Much,” using the same arrangement that Larry Ford (Homecoming Favorites, 1999) and Ernie Haase (Stand By Me Live, 2004) have used. I’m not entirely sure whether this particular arrangement originated with the Kingsmen or even earlier. (Do any of you know the arrangement’s history?)

The project closes with an uptempo convention song, “The Son Will Rise.”

While I have most of the Kingsmen’s classic live albums from the 70s and 80s, I hadn’t been as familiar with their 1990s sound. While this project may not be quite as good as Big & Live, Live…Naturally, or Live at the University of Alabama, it is in the same ballpark, and it comes pretty close.


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16 Letters to the Editor

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  1. I found this album on cassette at the local flea market a few years ago, and I have worn it out. “What Did He Ever See in Me” is my favorite song on there–a story told from the POV of the thief on the cross who accepted Jesus.

    Incidentally, aside from two King’sGold tapes, this was the first live album from the Kingsmen I had heard, so once I heard Jim Hamill’s emcee stylings, I was hooked. Since this one, I’ve acquired the Big & Live, Big & Live Again, and (most recently) the LP of Live…Naturally. You just can’t beat a live Kingsmen concert (in person or recorded)!

  2. I think you may just have sold me on an album. 🙂

    Although the song list would probably be enough in itself!

  3. If you get it, let me know what you think of it!

    I rated four songs 5 stars (#1, #3, and the last two), and virtually all if not all the others 4 stars. I think it’s a pretty solid release. 🙂

  4. I used to think that Terry Franklin and the GVB did “Little Is Much” in that fashion first, but actually, I have a recording of Willie Wynn singing it with the Oaks from the mid-60’s….

  5. So on the final verse, Willie Wynn went up an octave, and they repeated the “if you go” 3x at the end before ending on the high octave again?

  6. Levi, I got my cassette tape of this the same way! I recently picked it up and have really enjoyed listening to it in my car! Daniel, thanks for this review and clearing up for me who some of the people are on there. 🙂

  7. So, this is the same arrangement of “Little Is Much” that Legacy 5 did on “Live At The Palace” ?

  8. The CD also includes a GREAT song, What a Friend, after Little is Much. Classic Parker Jonathan intro and the group gets after it. Maybe the best song on the project.

  9. Quaid: Yes, it is the same arrangement. That one is one of the best I have heard, the other being Jacob Kitson’s debut with Greater Vision at a Cathedrals Remembered concert in Winston-Salem, NC on June 28, 2008.

  10. I’ve been hearing a lot of really good things, a lot of buzz about Jacob’s version. I’m really looking forward to hearing it one of these days!

  11. I just knew that I heard somewhere that Greater Vision had sang it, but was thinking that they recorded it with Chris Allman. But now that Aaron mentioned it, I remember reading his concert review where Jacob Kitson sang it.

  12. #8: Oh, yeah. I forgot all about “What a Friend”! That and “What Did He Ever…” are a close tie for me. (I have to go find the tape now and listen a bunch.)

  13. Kyle is correct about Willie Wynn singing “Little is Much” with the Oaks in the mid-60s. It is on their “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey” album. Jim Hamill was the baritone singer on that recording.

    Sherrill Nielsen brought this song to Jake Hess and the Imperials when he joined them. He had recorded it on his rare solo album, “A Name I Highly Treasure”, which was released circa 1960. A similar arrangement was released on the Imperials “Talent Times Five” album circa 1964. He also brought it to the Masters V who recorded it circa 1982. It was one of Nielsen’s sugar sticks.

  14. Great CD. I was at this concert by the way. Also recorded the same night was KingsGold IV when Gold City consisted of Parrack, Hill, Trammell, and Riley.
    Something worth mentioning, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem when Tim Surrett stepped away from the mic and towards the edge of the stage and the others followed was a very powerful moment. Also as you mentioned “Behold The Master Cometh” went over HUGE. The crowd went nuts.

  15. I just heard the “Little Is Much” cut from this project on a Kingsmen compilation I bought last night. Chris does good on it.
    Also on the tape is this recording of “In The Garden”. In complete honesty, I thought it was Mike English singing a special with the Kingsmen, ’till I came back here and read it was Randy Miller.

  16. Love this project! Have it on cassette, CD, and Video!

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