In 2005, Brian Free took a break from quartet singing and put out what is still one of my favorite solo efforts in southern gospel. Although I’ve never quite wrapped my brain around that other-worldly voice, his ear for a good song was as canny then as it is now. My personal favorite is the fresh, vigorous country rocker “Dare to Be a Daniel” (written by fellow Gold City alumnus Steve Lacey). Other highlights include “Anthem of the Ages,” which BFA could record today like new, and the tune I’m highlighting today, “Taking My God At His Word.” I could hear a number of artists doing this today, including the Perrys, Barry Rowland & Deliverance, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, and Greater Vision.
I think I would be most excited to hear Chris Allman take a stab at it, but for Ernie to have a go would be great fun too. What do y’all think?
[Some of you are wondering why this post suddenly appeared on a Saturday. Answer: I accidentally scheduled it for this evening and didn't realize it until it had been up for two hours. Sorry about that! Meanwhile, enjoy the post. :)]
When the Browns first started out, the group consisted of Mom, sisters Michaela and Jessica, and brothers Adam and Andrew. Jessica would go on to leave the group and marry Nick Trammell, both of whom have now joined the group in its most recent iteration. They sound better than ever today. But I enjoy the sound they had in the early years as well.
The title track of their debut project River of Love really struck me the first time I heard it. That project was rather average/forgettable on the whole, but this one song stood out. Simple, yet memorable, it was a very natural melding of lyrics and music. I have never heard it performed by anyone else, and I think it should be revived by a bigger group. What say ye? (By the way, stick around for the acapella reprise on this performance, it’s the best part.)
Most people might not know what a smooth pop singer Steve Green was before he launched his solo career. But he turned in some truly silky work with the Gaither Vocal Band in his early years with them. One of their best albums was 1983’s Passin’ the Faith Along. The title track has stuck around, of course, but a lot of the other songs on that project have been left in the 80s.
One such lost nugget is the Steve-led song “Love Them While We Can.” It’s simply carried with acoustic guitar and strings. And the lyrics tenderly portray the love that we should have for our parents, even after we’ve moved away from them. But it’s not at all patronizing. We should respect our parents’ wisdom too. “The silver secrets of the world/Lie beneath those crowns of gray.” The combination of lyrics, music and Steve’s golden young voice is just gorgeous.
As I was listening, it occurred to me that this would fit Ronnie Booth to a T. It calls for exactly the sort of tender delivery he brings to the table, and the song’s warm, easy-listening feel would perfectly complement the Booth Brothers’ harmonies. Take a listen and see if you agree:
Recently fridaynightrevival put up a post highlighting a forgotten gem from Gold City’s Standing in the Gap called “All That I Am.” Written by Terry Franklin with his wife Barbi, it’s a quietly majestic piece with powerful lyrics and a melody reminiscent of Danny Boy:
FNR said he believed somebody should bring it back, and I agreed. However, instead of coming up with my own idea of who should revive it, I decided to ask Terry himself. He actually had a couple of suggestions. First he said that he thought Wes Hampton could do a great job on it. This hadn’t even occurred to me because it was originally carried by a lead singer (David Hill). However, I immediately saw that he was completely right. Wes could infuse a lot of expression into the lyric. Raise the key by a step or two, and he’d bring the house down.
But Terry’s other suggestion was even more intriguing: Debra Talley. I could absolutely hear this working as well, although the arrangement would probably be a little quieter and more nuanced. Debra has a very rich voice that would also capture the song’s essence quite beautifully.
Do I hear more ideas from my readers?
Major blast from the 80s past alert! This classic Imperials song first came out in 1982. I’m embedding a live performance of it from a couple years later. Future GVB tenor Jim Murray takes the lead. I grew up on this guy’s voice, so it’s always held a special place in my heart. It’s so smooth and clear that I never grew tired of listening to it. I still haven’t:
Whoa, is that Dick Tunney with a mullet on keys?? Never mind, move along…
Nothing to be said except this song is an absolute gem. Soaring melody, thought-provoking lyrics. Somebody in southern gospel could easily record it. I think Ernie Haase & Signature Sound would be a great candidate, but I had a different idea too. Jaron Faulknor of Voices Won has always reminded me of Jim Murray. With him singing lead, the trio could do a very tight, smooth version of this song, perhaps with a more stripped-down feel. The bass part would be missed, but I think they would still be able to capture that classic feel. Thoughts?
Another new series, this one like Daniel’s “Encore.” I look at songs sung by a gospel group that deserve to be revived, and you tell me whether you agree with my ideas about who should revive them, or not.
We’ll start with a song by the Imperials. Now the Imperials sort of went all over the map, sonically speaking. They started off very traditional with Jake Hess, and they did some great work there. But after some member shifts, they got more adventurous and starting branching out into more of a light Christian rock sound. Heed the Call shows this side of them, with Russ Taff on lead and a great lineup of songs.
The title cut is an energetic number about following after Christ. It’s smart, fun, and fast-paced, with a wonderful bass echo that comes in towards the end (go Armond Morales!) Listen:
I’ve often mentioned how my fondness for Signature Sound is really related to the fact that I cut my teeth on this version of the Imperials growing up. EHSS often brings back those memories for me with their style and sound. And of course, with Ian Owens on board, they now have an actual Imperials alumnus contributing vocals, hand-picked to replace Armond no less. Ian and I had a little talk about what this could mean for their future repertoire, and I offered Ernie a few ideas. This song was one of them. The production on the original is of course very dated, but it could be spiffed up and given a fresh treatment with great results. Doug would be a natural fit on lead, and Ian would steal the show with the bass line. It could easily become a crowd favorite.
Look for more of these “bring back that old Imperials song” entries in this series. Maybe there’ll even be another one for EHSS…