Toe-to-Toe: Ball Brothers vs. Mullins, “Who’s Gonna Stand in the Gap?”

BB vs. M

[Update: Brian has pointed out that Squire Parsons also recorded this song himself back in the 80s. If you’d like to hear that version for yet a third take, click here.]

Since some readers took offense at my appropriation of Steve Eaton’s “Smackdown” title for this series, I’ve given it a new name so as to accommodate everyone. ūüôā Today, I’m taking a hot new track off the Ball Brothers’ release¬†Pursuit (review scheduled for next week)¬†and comparing it with an old acappella version by the Mullins. The song is “Who’s Gonna Stand in the Gap?” written by Squire Parsons. Squire’s songs consistently deliver for me. He just seems to knock it out of the park every time, and this resounding call to action is no exception. It’s like a contemporary “Dare to Be a Daniel,” exhorting Christians to stand proudly for God.

The Ball Brothers’ version is the standout track on their new project and pulls out all the stops for a big band swingfest, while the Mullins’ version is more soulful. I was happy to discover the album that the Mullins’ version comes from, Vocal Point. Classy acappella reminiscent of the Haven of Rest Quartet or Glad. You can listen to both versions on Spotify. Check out the Mullins¬†here. Then check out¬†the Ball Brothers here. Which do you prefer? To me, there is a clear winner, but I will let you be the judge!

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Monday Morning Humor: Before Mark Lowry, Before Tim Hawkins…

Last week I featured a clip of one of my favorite comic actors, Dick Van Dyke. Did you know that he has a kid brother who’s also a pretty darn good comedian? His name is Jerry, and I discovered him in this old episode of the Judy Garland Show. I immediately thought, “So THAT’S where Mark Lowry and Tim Hawkins got their weird!”¬†I honestly¬†wouldn’t be surprised if some of their facial contortions and physical techniques were influenced by Jerry Van Dyke, maybe even specifically influenced by this routine, which is classic. In it, he lip-syncs/performs a 6-and-a-half minute version of the Lone Ranger’s radio debut. I¬†actually have that radio broadcast on cassette tape, which made the routine even funnier for me to watch. He really hits his stride once Tonto shows up about half-way through:

 

Guest Classic Review: This Stage of Grace, by the Booth Brothers

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Brian Fuson of Fuson’s Findings.]This Stage of Grace, by the Booth Brothers

Let‚Äôs hit the Rewind button and go all the way back to 2001. Before everyone on earth had an iPhone, when Chrysler was still owned by Germans, and my precious Detroit Tigers hadn‚Äôt had a winning season since I was a toddler. The Booth Brothers had no chart topping songs, no legions of fans, and weren‚Äôt really known by the average Gospel Music fan. Ronnie and Michael Booth were continuing the group they started with their father, Ron Sr, in the early 90’s. When Sr. departed in 1999, a young man named Joseph Smith joined the group, taking over the baritone position. Smith spent a couple years with Perfect Heart before the group disbanded and had proven to be an impressive vocalist in his short stint.

The group had recorded one impressive project, Walkin’ On The Good Side, that was fantastic. This Stage of Grace, released in 2001, would be the follow up. And it was the album that would make the Southern Gospel industry recognize the guys.

Continue reading “Guest Classic Review: This Stage of Grace, by the Booth Brothers”

Guest Concert Review: The Whisnants in Pottsville, AR

Lauren's Whisnants Concert Shot #1

[Editor’s note:¬†This is a guest post by Lauren of Lauren’s Southern Gospel Views From the Pew.]

Saturday night I made my way north to a small church on top of a hill where the Whisnants were singing that night. They were scheduled to be in Pottsville, Ark. at Pottsville Freewill Baptist Church that night. Pottsville is a small town of about 3,000, so as you can imagine, the nightlife leaves something to be desired. And for a small town and a smaller church, thankfully many of the people of Pottsville chose to attend a gospel concert on Saturday night. Continue reading “Guest Concert Review: The Whisnants in Pottsville, AR”

Monday Morning Humor: Dick Van Dyke Explains Comedy to Kids

When I was little, my three great loves were Dick Van Dyke, Danny Kaye and Donald O’Connor. (Pause for a¬†gratuitous collage):

Dick Van Dyke, Danny Kaye and Donald O'Connor collage

Where was I? Oh yes, one¬†reason¬†why¬†these particular three were my great loves (w/apologies to Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, etc.) was that they all had something¬†specific in common:¬†They were geniuses of physical comedy. And nothing can make little kids laugh like brilliant physical comedy. Of the three, I probably fell hardest (as it were) for Dick Van Dyke, on the strength of his two classic performances in Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang and¬†Mary Poppins.¬†He is also the only one still with us today (with a Twitter account no less—check him out¬†busting a dance¬†move¬†in the department store¬†on Vine too). In today’s clip from his classic sitcom, he is inspired to unpack the science of slapstick and pantomime in front of a classroom of little kids,¬†after failing to¬†impress them merely with words and his cred as a sketch¬†writer for the Alan Brady show. Enjoy:

 

Guest Concert Review: Brian Free & Assurance in Wynne, AR

[Editor’s Note: This concert review is a guest post by Lauren of Lauren’s Southern Gospel Views From the Pew. It’s shorter than she had planned it to be, but thereby hangs a tale…]

Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. We serve a God of all possibilities, but sometimes He chooses not to allow things to go the way you want them to. This was the case Saturday night. Brian Free and Assurance was in Wynne, Ark. I knew there was some construction on the interstate between there and where I live, so I wanted to leave early to ensure I would make it. I didn’t leave quite as early as I planned, but still I didn’t think I would have any problem making the concert.

I was only three miles from my exit off the interstate and about 15 miles from the church. I began to see the warning signs of possible delays, but it was only two more miles of interstate. Why take the detour and add five more miles when I was so close? Traffic showed no signs of stopping until I passed that last detour exit. That‚Äôs when I saw brake lights in front of me. Continue reading “Guest Concert Review: Brian Free & Assurance in Wynne, AR”

Guest CD Review: “Hymns, the A Cappella Sessions” by The Nelons

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[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Brian Fuson of Fuson’s Findings.]

Out of all the groups on the road today, it would be hard to find a group with a greater heritage than The Nelons. It all started when Rex Nelon took over the management of The Lefevres. After Eva Mae Lefevre’s retirement, ¬†the group was renamed as The Rex Nelon Singers in 1977. Towards the end of The Lefevres, Rex’s daughter Kelly joined the group. Together, this father and daughter duo led The Nelons to the top of the Gospel Music industry. After her father’s passing, Kelly continued to lead the Nelons through a new millennium. The group consists now of Kelly Nelon Clark, her husband Jason Clark, and daughter Amber Nelon Thompson singing soprano, with youngest daughter Autumn supplying additional vocals.

When you consider the group’s rich history and all their accomplishments, it may come as a surprise that this project marks a first for The Nelons. “Hymns: The A Capella Sessions” is the very first a cappella recording in the group’s long and illustrious history. United together with super-producer/arranger Lari Goss, the family has recorded one of the finest a cappella projects in the history of the genre.

Continue reading “Guest CD Review: “Hymns, the A Cappella Sessions” by The Nelons”

Monday Morning Humor: Classic Songwriting Spoof

In this rare clip from a 1952 episode of the Colgate Comedy Hour, Donald O’Connor and his underrated partner in comedy Sid Miller have the Tin Pan Alley blues. Try and try as they might, the¬†next “White Christmas” is eluding the starving, freezing would-be hit-makers. They proceed to spoof the classic genre in side-splitting style.

“Beethoven said in order to write great music you gotta suffer.”

“So?”

“We gotta suffer.”

I have marked off the ending of the skit before¬†they segue¬†into¬†some impressions¬†pairing up famous actors, but that skit is pure gold too, so if you like you can hover ’til you see an “x” and click ‘n’ drag to keep watching (or just go¬†here¬†and skip forward). If you know anything about old movies, you’ll love their takes on Edward G. Robinson +¬†Lionel Barrymore, Ronald Colman +¬†Peter Lorre, Bing Crosby¬†+¬†Barry Fitzgerald, and Jimmy Cagney¬†+¬†Jimmy Stewart. Donald’s Bing and Stewart are spot-on and it’s all quite wonderful. Plus, 50s product placement: “Ah Bing my boy, I tell you from the bottom of my heart, your voice is as fine as Fab, as brilliant as Halo, and as powerful as Ajax.”

Smackdown: Adam Crabb vs. Michael English, “Please Forgive Me”

A limited edition recording of the new Gaither Vocal Band has been leaked to Youtube. The report is that this table project will not be sold in any common retail outlets, so if you happen to grab a copy at a concert, congratulations! There’s no new material, just slightly different vocal arrangements over pre-existing tracks for songs like “My Lord and I,” “Why Me, Lord?” and “The Baptism of Jesse Taylor.” One of the songs being re-done is “Please Forgive Me?” Of course, this is a Crabb Family original, but the Gaither Vocal Band’s arrangement upped the vocal ante several notches. It’s interesting to hear Adam Crabb take over what has now become a Michael English signature tune. Take a listen to the new lineup’s take on it. Update, July 31:¬†Or don’t, now that the copyright police dogs have sniffed out and broken this link.

As an extra little bonus, here is some live footage of the current lineup on the dramatic breakdown:

Now refresh your memory on Michael English’s version. Which do you prefer?

CD Review: The News is Out, by Driven Quartet

Driven Quartet is a young men’s group currently signed to Chapel Records. They’ve been around for a while, even if you may not recognize their name. Their roots run deep in southern gospel, and lead singer Jason Funderburk is the son of legendary Cathedrals tenor Danny Funderburk. In 2009, David Bruce Murray said their self-titled record was the best non-label¬†release he had heard that year. Now they have returned with a new project. Click below the fold for my review. Continue reading “CD Review: The News is Out, by Driven Quartet”