Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.

Archive for October, 2008

Dual Review: Tribute Quartet – My Tribute (2006) & Anticipation (2007)

October 27, 2008 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, Tribute Quartet

Rating: 3 stars
Producers: Glen Bates & Arthur Rice
Website: www.tributequartet.com

1. Brother Don’t Lose The Shout – The group’s debut project opens up with some straight-up Southern Gospel quartet singing. Nice way to open up, and nice piano work in the background by Josh Singletary.

2. God Can’t Remember – Lead singer Gary Casto is featured on this country-flavored song. Nothing really jumped out at me about this track.

3. My Tribute To You – Casto is featured on this soft, slow track, showcasing his higher range. Singletary’s piano work on this track is a great accompaniment. I guess this is kind of a “theme song” for the group, and it’s a nice one. Stepping it up at the end makes for a good finish.

4. I Found A Place – It’s more traditional sounding fare on this track. Jacob Kitson’s tenor out front finishes the first part, then leads into the built-in encore. An OK inclusion, but probably does better in a live setting.

5. In The Shelter Of His Hands – This song moves at a shuffling pace, and gives baritone/pianist Josh Singletary his first feature. Kitson leads the chorus. I’ve heard it said that Singletary has a voice with a crooning tone similar to that of Frank Sinatra, and I agree with that.

6. You’d Better Have A Boat – Bass singer Dennis Dugger sings/recites this song about Noah. The recitation somehow seems out of step with the music, but it’s not a glaring problem.

7. God Knows – This slow song opens with more of Josh Singletary’s great piano accompaniment, and Jacob Kitson (now tenor for Greater Vision) is featured. I don’t recall seeing this song go out to radio, but I imagine it would have done well. Kitson has good control and tone to his voice, and can carry a slow, pretty tune like this well. One of the stronger songs of the project.

8. I’m In That Crowd – Yet another traditional sounding song. I bet this one is a “hand clapper and foot stomper” at concerts.

9. It’s Always Been You – Josh Singletary plays and sings this song that fits his vocal style much better than “In The Shelter Of His Hands.” One of my favorites of the album.

10. Heaven In Sight – This track opens up with a harmonica’s imitation of a train whistle, and the song employs a country sound. Jacob Kitson leads it. Nothing really impressed me about this track.

11. The Other Side Of Calvary – Bass singer Dennis Dugger sings (not recites) this song, singing a solid low bass solo that reminds me of Jeremy Lile’s verse of Crystal River’s “Before The Teardrops Hit The Ground.” This song would have done well on radio as well.

12. Give The Gift – The album closes with a “bonus track” that sounds like a modern country tune with a Christmas theme. This was a good way to end the project.

Final Thoughts – The debut project of Tribute Quartet is OK. It does have some good, and a few great, songs on it, but I imagine the group was still trying to find their “niche,” if you will. This album earns a solid 3-star rating because it’s not great, but it’s not lousy either.


Rating: 4 stars
Producers: Glen A. Bates & Arthur Rice
Website: www.tributequartet.com

1. Good News – The album opens up with a track similar in style to that of the previous project. The group does all kinds of stuff with the parts on the chorus near the end. When I first picked this album up, I wondered what it would have sounded like if the group had covered the GVB song of the same title. Ah, what could have been… This is an enjoyable track nonetheless.

2. Be Still And Know – This track is the group’s current radio single, and it’s good choice for a single. Great message and vocals with a nice music track. One of my favorites on here.

3. Beulah – Nice bluegrassy tune. The group pulls off this sound as well.

4. The Cross Jesus Carried – Lead singer Gary Casto is featured here. The feature is handed off to Jacob Kitson on the second verse. His feature here reminds me of a young Danny Funderburk for some reason.

5. There Is An Eye – Josh Singletary is featured on a song that is tailored to his crooner tune, complete with saxophones in the background. It is obvious that he did not play piano on this project, but this is still a good song.

6. When Those Gates Open Wide – This uptempo song was the first single off this project, and it’s also the one that got me interested in this group. The only complaint I have is that the bass has kind of a muddy sound on the chorus.

7. In Remembrance Of The Cross – Acoustic guitars open up this slow Gary Casto feature. This a good song, and would probably perform well on radio.

8. Over On The Other Side – This is another “hand clappin’, foot stompin'” song that this group is so fond of doing. It doesn’t get much more SG than this.

9. Mercy Walks A Road – Jacob Kitson carries this ballad. Slow songs seemed to be his bread and butter during his tenure with the group. Good song.

10. Wait On The Water To Part – Josh Singletary tries his hand at country singin’, and he pulls it off better than I expected. I honestly didn’t see a Singletary feature coming when I heard the intro to this song.

11. This I Know – The project finishes off with a slow tune. Nice bass feature by Dennis Dugger on the second verse.

Final Thoughts: The sophomore effort by this group is better than their previous release. If the group continues in this direction, they’ll be fine.

Even though Jacob Kitson left to join Greater Vision, new tenor Brian Alvey is a good tenor as well, and the group hasn’t missed a beat. I look forward to future projects from this 2008 Horizon Group Of The Year.

Next review: N’Harmony – Favorites

Videos From Greater Vision in Waynesboro, VA

October 25, 2008 By: Aaron Category: Concert Reviews, Greater Vision, SG Artists, SG Music

As a follow-up to my concert review, here are some video clips of that concert. Hat tip to Youtube user gmphenom. Click through to watch in high quality.

My Name Is Lazarus
Little Is Much
Champion Of Love

More David Phelps GVB Fill-in Stuff

October 22, 2008 By: Aaron Category: David Phelps, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG History, SG Music

Just saw this video of the Phelps-Hampton-Hall-Gaither lineup singing “Let Freedom Ring”:

Gerald Wolfe Starts A Blog

October 22, 2008 By: Aaron Category: Blogging Community, Gerald Wolfe, SG Artists, SG Music

Just wanted to let everyone know about this new addition to the blogosphere. The inaugural post is a great one, and I can’t wait to read future stuff. Check him out.

Video Gems: Kurt Young With The Cathedrals (or, What Could Have Been)

October 21, 2008 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG History, SG Music, The Cathedrals

Dean Adkins posts this homemade video of a 1990 concert shortly after Young joined The Cathedrals for his brief stint as tenor following Danny Funderburk.

This proves that Kurt Young was truly a great tenor that got a bad break. A combination of nerves and following a powerhouse tenor that contrasted his style did him in, as evidenced by the infamous Dove Awards performance that is also on Youtube.

I’m of the opinion that had Young followed Kirk Talley, he would have gone down in SG history as one of The Cathedrals’ best tenors. He has a pleasant voice, a good range, and great control as well. It is nice to see this video of a great tenor singer that shows what could have been had circumstances been better.

CD Review: Brian Free & Assurance – Timeless Hymns & Classics II

October 21, 2008 By: Aaron Category: Brian Free And Assurance, CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 5 stars

Label: Daywind Records
Producer: Ricky Free
Website: www.brianfreeandassurance.com

1. First Day In Heaven – Right off the bat, this Classics project opens up with a standard SG quartet song. What I appreciate most about this song (besides the great vocals, of course) is the fact that Ricky Free arranged this song in such a way that it let the group put their own spin on this song, instead of doing it the same way that every group and their cousin has done over the years.

2. What A Beautiful Day – The album slows down a bit for this country-flavored mid-tempo track. Everyone who liked Brian Free’s stratosphere tenor singing on the song “What A Lovely Name” on the group’s Timeless Hymns & Classics Volume I album will like this track near the end. He gets pretty near to that high note on this song, quite possibly hitting it or even going half a step higher. One of my favorite tracks of the project.

3. Glory Road – The group once again puts their own spin on a quartet classic. The track actually breaks from the traditional piano opening, opting instead for a guitar-and-horns approach. Brian Free sings some high tenor here as well, staying well within his range and not screaming like so many tenors like to do on this song.

4. He Looked Beyond My Faults – Lead singer Bill Shivers is featured on this Dottie Rambo song, which is a fitting tribute considering that this is one of her best-known songs and Dottie passed away soon before this album was released. The group does a great job singing this slow song.

5. Mercy Built A Bridge – This was a song that was recorded by The Hinsons 1987 album Generations. I was not familiar with it before this album, but the way that it is done on this album would make it right at home on any other recent BFA project. Bass singer Jeremy Lile (2008 Horizon Individual) showcases his upper range on the first verse, then moves down the scale in the middle of the second. Lile is one of the best and most versatile young basses on the road today, and he turns in a good performance on this song.

6. John The Revelator – A classic quartet song that is once again tweaked to BFA’s style. There is no bass lead of “Talkin’ bout John” on the chorus, but Jeremy Lile’s still rocks the lower end of the spectrum in his ensemble work.

7. Just A Little Talk With Jesus – The arrangement used here is not unlike the arrangement found on the first KingsGold project. Brian Free is featured on the slowed-down second verse, and Jeremy Lile’s bass lead recalls Ray Dean Reese and Tim Riley’s singing on the aforementioned project. The song even speeds up for the final choruses.

8. The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power – Derrick Selph is featured on this slow old song. Pretty standard fare.

9. Sheltered In The Arms Of God – Brian Free is featured on the second Dottie Rambo song of the project. His smooth tenor carries the song well, and the acoustic guitar and strings that back him throughout the song are a nice touch.

10. Look For Me At Jesus’ Feet – Brian Free sounds good on this song, but I’m of the opinion that the Booth Brothers pretty much own this song now. This is a nice way to close the album, though.

Final Thoughts: This follow-up release to 2007’s Real Faith proves that this decidedly Progressive quartet can still get it done like any Traditional group. As I stated in the first track, I appreciate the fact that the songs covered here go for the group’s own personal spin rather than doing stuff the standard way. The vocals and production are spot-on, and Ricky Free does a great job arranging and producing the project (as well as playing drums throughout and playing additional electric guitar on “Mercy Built A Bridge.” I find nothing wrong with this project, and it definitely earns its 5-star rating.

Next Review: Dual Review: Tribute Quartet – My Tribute & Anticipation

Concert Review: Greater Vision in Waynesboro, VA 10/18/08

October 20, 2008 By: Aaron Category: Greater Vision, SG Artists, SG Music

I got to catch a concert with Greater Vision at the First Presbyterian Church in Winchester, VA. What a night of great music!

1. Tell Me The Story Of Jesus
2. The Source Of My Song
3. He’d Still Been God
– I scribbled in the margins after this one that Jacob Kitson is definitely a more solid tenor than Jason Waldroup. The group is sounding better than ever these days!
4. God Will Pass By
5. My Name Is Lazarus
6. Share It With Jesus
– Gerald introduced this as a song that they actually re-recorded on their newest project, Not Alone. It was orignally recorded 18 years ago on the group’s 1991 project, On A Journey.
7. Little Is Much – this is the second time that I’ve heard Jacob Kitson sing this song live for myself, the first time being at a Cathedrals Remembered concert in Winston-Salem, NC. Jacob absolutely NAILED the ending, proving once again that Youtube videos are not the best source to form an opinion on someone’s sound. This got a standing ovation.
8. You Better Hurry Up
9. A Mighty Fortress
– Wow! This song brought the audience to their feet again. Absolutely powerful singing from all three guys.
10. Faces
11. I Want To Know That You Know
12. Champion Of Love
– Using the modified arrangement for Greater Vision (a half-step lower keyed), it is less taxing on the singers. Kitson handles the high ending well, and Gerald Wolfe’s solo is top-notch.


13. Oh Holy Night – Yet another standing ovation.
14. It Means Just What It Says
15. You’re Not Forsaken
16. Common Garments
– there’s two things interesting about this song: it was Jacob’s first time ever singing it (he did a good job), and it was also sung per request of some Brazilian missionaries that attended the concert. And by Brazilian missionaries, I mean missionaries from Brazil to the US. Gerald remarked from the stage that we needed them now more than ever; he is right.
17. So Much God
18. Gerald Wolfe Piano Solo – Sweet Hour Of Prayer
19. It Pays To Pray
20. I Know He Heard My Prayer

Final Thoughts: Greater Vision’s current lineup is one of their strongest to date, and they put on a great concert. See them as soon as possible if they come to your area!

David Phelps With The GVB

October 19, 2008 By: Aaron Category: David Phelps, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Music

Saw this on Daniel Mount’s blog and figured I’d share. Here is the GVB at a recent concert singing “Alpha And Omega.”

Lineup is tenor David Phelps, lead Wes Hampton, baritone Marshall Hall, and bass Bill Gaither.

CD Review: Legacy Five – God’s Been Good

October 13, 2008 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 3.5 stars

Label: Daywind Records
Producer: Steve W. Mauldin
Website: www.legacyfive.com

1. In A Million Years – The album opens up with a country sound that fits the group well. Found myself hitting the skip button on the encore; would probably work better in a live setting, though.

2. The Moment I Get Up There – A pretty straight-forward quartet song. Great harmony; bass singer Glenn Dustin has a good solo on the first verse, then the other three parts trade off on the second verse. This song does a good job featuring each singer.

3. Goin’ Home Day – Tenor Frank Seamans often mentions in concerts when sharing his salvation testimony that he used to sing in “honky-tonks.” That sound comes through on this slow, jazzy tune. I share Kyle Boreing’s sentiment that Frank is the most solid tenor the group has had. Glenn Dustin hits some low notes near the end.

4. Hello After Goodbye On a previous Legacy Five album, Heroes Of The Faith, the group’s late pianist/fifth vocalist, Roger Bennett, sang the title track, a ballad that he wrote in tribute to Glen Payne. This track, like that song, was also written as a tribute: it is a tribute to Roger himself. Jim Brady of the Booth Brothers penned it after Bennett’s funeral. The group does a great job on this touching song, and it does more than pay tribute to a truly great man; it signals a transition in Legacy Five’s history. With this song, they say farewell to Roger, while looking forward to their future. Great choice for the first single to radio.

5. Every Morning – I didn’t really care for this track at all. Too sing-songy for my taste.

6. God Will Go – This song features lead singer Scott Fowler, backed by a horn and drums-driven track. The song reminds me of another L5 song, “Temporary Tomb” from their Live In Music City project. Listeners who disliked the “in your face” blaring sound of that song, however, will like this track much better.

7. What Faith Does – Scott Fowler gets the feature on another ballad. The group pulls this type of song off well: a “message” song that is backed by an orchestral sound. One of my favorites of the project.

8. Heavenly Signs – This track bears a sort of stripped down, piano driven sound that is standard SG, much like something The Cathedrals would have done. An organ playing in the background adds to the nostalgic sound.

9. Roll On – This is another track I didn’t care for. It features Glenn Dustin, but he is a much better bass singer than this song makes him out to be. Something is just “off” about the whole sound of the song to my ears.

10. Take It To The Cross – A truly beautiful song that features a nice opening with Tim Parton’s piano playing. Baritone Scott Howard has a voice that is great on ballads like this, and he pulls it off very well. Another favorite song of mine.

11. God’s Been Good – The album closes with the title track, which is lightly played with just piano and sung by pianist/fifth vocalist Tim Parton. This has become something of a signature song for Parton since he joined the group, and I’m glad they decided not to add any extra instrumentation when they recorded it; the piano-and-vocal sound that you hear here is how it is when he sings it live. This is another “transition” song as well, because it shows L5 fans that the piano bench is being filled quite adequately by Parton.

Final Thoughts: I’ll be the first to admit that I am a total Legacy Five fan. They were the group that got me hooked on SG, and they were also the group that I saw my first concert with. I’ll also admit that I was somewhat disappointed with this project. The production for many of the songs was less than good. To my ears, it sounded as if the vocals were muffled behind the music tracks. I noticed this problem to a greater extent on the group’s Know So Salvation, but I dismissed it as it just being a table project. The problem is not completely fixed with this mainline release.

My advice to the group would be to take more songs like all the ones except “Every Morning” and “Roll On” and pick those to record. The production should improve some as well; the vocal production did not impress me at all. Glenn Dustin in particular sounded really muddy, and this project does not do him nearly enough justice. I mentioned earlier that he is a great bass singer, and the production for his voice did not give him enough credit.

That is to say, not all of this project is bad. I loved several of the songs. It is not a great project, but the songs that do redeem it are very good.

Bottom line: Legacy Five is a great quartet, and I’m sure that some of the issues of this project just come with the transition into a new era. I only hope that they can once again record projects that match their talent level like their earlier stuff.

Next review: Brian Free & Assurance – Timeless Hymns & Classics Volume II

Interesting Video

October 11, 2008 By: Aaron Category: Barack Obama, Politics, Presidential Race

I realize this isn’t SG, but it still affects all of us. According to this video, Obama is ineligible for the Presidency:

If what this video says is true, I wonder what will happen. To my knowledge, this has never happened in a Presidential race before. I wonder if that means McCain automatically wins, or the Democratic Party chooses another candidate.

I really hope it’s the first one. Lord knows we don’t need Hillary running for Prez…