Same people, different groups

Good morning and welcome to my first contribution to Burke’s Brainwork! This is a topic I’ve had on my mind for a while now but haven’t shared it because I’ve had trouble coming up with the best way to express what I am wanting to say. I in no way intend for this to be negative against any groups or singers, it is more of a “ya ever notice” type of thought.

I was thinking the other day how singers are featured at a different level when they are with various groups. Not necessarily the number of songs they get to sing on an album or in a concert, but the songs themselves. I’m probably not making any sense so let me give a few examples to get the discussion started. You can comment on my examples or come up with some of your own.

Mark Trammell was the original baritone for Greater Vision. Understandably their sound was built around lead singer and owner Gerald Wolfe. Mark got his share of features but years later, the only one that stands out in my mind is “He Is Mine.” Thinking back to his days with The Cathedrals you could name off Master Builder, Sin Will Take You Farther, Scars and Stripes, and so forth. When he joined Gold City, he got the majority of the power ballads in their projects and I personally feel his vocal talents were showcased much more with songs like “Calvary Came Through” and “Show Me the Cross.” I would say he was more of a standout with Gold City than his previous groups, but a lot of that probably came with his previous experience and following in the industry.

For example two I will use Curt Davis. He was on board when The Whisnants really went to “the next level” so to speak. If you get a chance, listen to their CDs “Still Standing” and “A Glimpse of Grace.” He was a great lead vocalist with a nice range. When the Perrys went from a 2 female/2 male to a 1 female/3 male lineup, I was excited to hear that Curt was going to be their first baritone. This group’s sound was built mostly around Libbi Stuffle and powerhouse lead vocalist Loren Harris. Curt recorded 4 CDs with The Perrys and though he blended well, he never really had any songs that were released to radio or even stood out.

I’m looking forward hearing back from everyone!

-natesings

Hidden Gems: Legacy Five – “Unless”

This 3/4 ballad was on Legacy Five’s Monuments project. I always thought this was one of the stronger songs on the project, though “Not That You Died”, “Roll Away”, and “Out Of My Darkness” got the radio play. Scott Fowler sings the first verse, and does a good job. Smooth quartet harmonies highlight the chorus, then a key change and Frank Seamans takes the second verse. Another key change comes after the second chorus, and a round-like tag with really nice harmony leads to a (false) ending. The key changes again and they repeat the last couple of lines of the chorus and the round-like tag again. This is a great song, and the harmony on the tag is marvelous. Frank Seamans’ performance is very strong here, one of his best on the disc. The lyrics are strong, the arrangement is spot on, and there is just a lot to like about this tune. Give it a listen.

Brad Hudson Leaving The Greenes

According to this post on the SN forums, Brad Hudson is leaving the Greenes to take a position at a church in Charlotte.  He cites a desire to stay home with his wife and infant son.  He will be staying with the group through Taranda’s delivery and return to the road in April.  The Greenes are now looking for a replacement.  Brad is a great singer and good guy.  He was with 3 for 1 for a long time before joining the Greenes, and is extremely talented.  I wish Brad nothing but the best, and the Greenes the best in their search for his replacement.

Unused GVB Songs

In reviewing Wes Hampton’s blog posts, there is a tidbit in an older post (from Jan. 22) that they had to cut 4 songs that were recorded for Lovin’ Life due to space constraints.  He mentions that one will be used on an upcoming Christmas CD (another little juicy tidbit).  No mention is made of the other 3 songs.  Hey guys, here’s a suggestion.  Make them available as digital downloads on your Gaither.com shop!  Not only would this most likely produce some significant additional revenue from the downloads, but could drive other sales as it will be a traffic driver to the online store.  It’s amazing what putting these three songs online for 99 cents apiece would do for you.  Just a suggestion from a humble blogger.

Welcome A New Contributor

Please take a minute to welcome a new contributor to this blog, Nate Pritchard.  Those of you who frequent various SG message board sites will know Nate very well.  I’ve known him for well over 10 years now in the online world, and we often times have similar perspectives on SG related issues.  Nate has a real knack for finding interesting tidbits that he will be sharing from time to time.  To borrow a phrase from about every SG MC, make him feel welcome!  It’s a privilege to have you aboard, my friend.

GVB’s Lovin’ Life Track Listing

Wes Hampton has posted the track listing for the new Gaither Vocal Band CD, Lovin’ Life, on his blog (hat tip, NP). Here is the listing:

  1. I’m Forgiven*
  2. Build an Ark*
  3. Jesus and John Wayne
  4. Go Ask*
  5. Home of Your Dreams
  6. Search Me Lord*
  7. Lonely Mile
  8. There’s Always a Place at the Table
  9. The Diff’rence is in Me
  10. I’m Lovin’ Life
  11. When I Cry
  12. Prisoner of Hope
  13. Then He Bowed His Head and Died*

I agree with NP’s count of 5 remakes, denoted with an asterisk.  There was an instrumental released by Henry Slaughter with the Imperials called “Lonely Mile”, but I seriously doubt the one listed above is the same song.  If by chance it is, then that would make 6 covers, the rest originals.  The CD is due out April 8.  I’m especially excited to hear their version of “I’m Forgiven”, if it is the Imperials song (which I expect) and not the Florida Boys song by the same title.  I like the FB song fine, but I like the classic Imps tune better.

BFA’s New Single

Brian Free noted Friday night that “I Believe God” is their new radio single, having shipped to radio last week.  Great choice, I love the song.  However, I also think it would be worth taking a shot at releasing this song to CCM radio (esp. K-LOVE).  As I said in my concert review, this song would have sounded at home on a 4Him CD.  It’s a great song, and has enough of a contemporary edge that I think it could get some decent airtime on CCM stations, at least ones that play the softer side of CCM (NewSong, Point of Grace, Michael W. Smith, et. al.) and could possibly even see some minor CCM chart action.  I think it’s definitely worth Daywind taking a look.  Maybe release it to K-LOVE and some select CCM stations in larger markets just to give it a test run.  Those of you that have heard the song, what do you think?

Concert Review – Brian Free & Assurance

Let me begin by saying this.  I am biased.  BFA is probably my favorite quartet out there right now.  I fully realize this, so I won’t pretend that I attended this concert absolutely objectively.   However, I still am going to post my review of this concert, and hopefully my bias toward the group won’t be too overwhelming.  This was one of the best attended concerts we have had in quite a while.  At 6:30, a full 30 minutes before start time, the downstairs section of the sanctuary (which seats about 225-250) was between 1/2 and 2/3 full.  By the time the concert started, the downstairs was pretty much full, with some folks sitting in chairs in the aisles.  The balcony (which seats around 75-100) was a little less than half full, I would guess 30-40 people upstairs.  All told, we probably had between 250-300 people there.  Really nice crowd.  Also, the general makeup of the crowd was much more varied than for the Perrys concert a month or so ago.  The average age of attendees Friday night for BFA was significantly younger.

Set List

  1. I Keep Lookin’ Up
  2. Deep Deep Sea
  3. In My Robe Of White
  4. I Believe God
  5. Praying Man
  6. Introductions
  7. Real Faith
  8. Save Me A Seat
  9. Healed
  10. Jesus Will Pick You Up

Intermission

  1. Oh What A Savior
  2. If It Takes A Valley
  3. For God So Loved
  4. What Will You Choose
  5. Long As I Got King Jesus

Here are some thoughts on the concert:

  • “I Keep Looking Up” is a great way to start the concert.  It gets the energy going right away, and they never really seemed to lose it, even when they did the slower songs.  The last time, they opened with “What A Lovely Name”, which gets the audience involved with a song they are fairly familiar with, but “Looking Up” is a much more tempo setting, high octane concert opener.
  • They have not yet found a piano player, and Ricky was not with them this weekend either.
  • The newer ballads “I Believe God” and “Real Faith” would not have sounded out of place on a 4Him CD.  Brian agreed with that sentiment.  An interesting tidbit he shared with me was that their song “Man Of Sorrows” from It’s So God was actually on hold with 4Him when they split up.  Since they didn’t record it, BFA picked it up.  Very, very interesting.
  • Jeremy Lile has a nice full sound with a lot of resonance on his lower notes. Yes I know that the subs have a lot to do with that, but he just sounded really good on the lower notes.
  • The only songs that were encored were “Jesus Will Pick You Up” and “Long As I Got King Jesus”, though there were several standing ovations.  “I Believe God” and “For God So Loved” got especially rousing ovations.
  • Brian does a great job on “Oh What A Savior.”  This was my first time to hear him sing the song, and he is the most effortless at the high notes of anyone I’ve heard sing it.
  • My son (almost 3) LOVES “Long As I Got King Jesus”, in fact, since Friday night, he’s been walking around our house singing “Long, Long, Long, Long My Got King Jesus!”  OK, so his grammar isn’t correct, but not bad for a 2 year old!
  • Bill Shivers is an amazing lead singer.  Terribly underrated.  He really shines on “Praying Man.”

The best way I can summarize the concert Friday night is that my sister, who is not a SG fan  (give her some good CCM, Barlow Girls and the like any day), asked me after the concert if I had BFA’s latest CD  and her boyfriend, who is not really familiar with SG at all, said to her, “You told me I wasn’t going to like this…they were awesome!”  High praise indeed from 2 non-Southern Gospel fans.  Brian, Bill, Derrick, and Jeremy, you guys did a fantastic job, and we hope to have you back again soon.  Keep up the great work.

Classics Corner: Perfect Heart – “Looking For The Wounded”

The year 1992 saw the release of Perfect Heart’s second album, Looking For The Wounded. This was still the original lineup of Danny Funderburk, Dale Shipley, Mark Lanier, and Mike Presnell with Jeff Stice and Aubrey Stephens. I bought the cassette when it came out, and just recently bought the CD from Amazon. This was a big step up from the first major release, It Comes From The Heart.

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Tracks

  1. I’ve Got An Old Time Religion – Great uptempo opening cut with a great brass section. Dale Shipley sings the verses and does his typical outstanding job. The quartet world really misses the lead voice of Dale Shipley. He is the quintessential lead singer. The harmony on the tag is especially nice.
  2. The First Look – Great power ballad. The first verse starts with soft, smooth harmony by the group with Shipley doing the last . After the chorus, which is great in its own right, Funderburk takes the second verse and leads to a very powerful chorus that is a bit reminiscent of the type of power Danny had with the Cathedrals. This song is one of the highlights of the disc.
  3. The Pleasure Is Mine – Kudos to Jeff Stice on the brilliant piano ragtime introduction and interlude on this peppy tune. Shipley has the lead throughout the song. Solid singing, a nice arrangement, especially on the tag, and a great message highlight this very enjoyable tune. The harmony on the last chord is impeccable.
  4. Glory Waves – Military themed ballad featuring Mike Presnell. Mike has such a smooth, deep bass voice. He really shines on this song. Very evocative lyrics that portray life on earth as a constant battlefield and Heaven the homecoming of the soldiers. Very powerful song, another nice performance by the group on the choruses. Nothing really flashy in terms of the arrangement, but solid power block harmony. Great song.
  5. I Wish It Would Rain – This is the song that most people remember from the album. This song oozes ’50s doo-wop, and is one of the most unique SG songs recorded in the last 20 years or so. The performance is flawless. Nice sax work by Sam Levine on the track. You could really think you were listening to the Platters, or Danny and the Juniors on this one. It’s complete with Danny F. pulling the “Oooo-weee-ooo-oooh” falsetto ending. This is just an incredibly fun song, but with a great lyric to go along with the unique arrangement.
  6. In My Wildest Dreams – A gorgeous acappella introduction leads off this mid-tempo number. This was the other big radio single from this project, and was the first single sent to radio. It was fairly successful, if memory serves me correctly, it went top 10, maybe top 5. Shipley shines on the second verse. He keeps the lead through the chorus, then Funderburk takes the third verse and final chorus. Nice cascading harmony on the tag with a power ending finish off this great track.
  7. Looking For The Wounded – This is a nice soft ballad that returns to the battlefield imagery first used on “Glory Waves”. I particularly like the string arrangement on the introduction. This is a solid song, with some nice sax work again by Levine on the track, which almost has a Kenny G type feel to it. Mark Lanier takes the first verse, with Danny taking the second before getting into the chorus. It’s probably the weakest song on the CD, but is still a solid song, nonetheless. If I were rating tracks on this CD like I do for actual reviews, it would probably get a 6, so it’s still a nice song with some really smooth harmony.
  8. Mercy Fell On Me – Uptempo, in-your-face tune that really contrasts from the soft “Looking For The Wounded”. Mark Lanier sings the verses, with each group member taking the lead on a line of the chorus. A nice key change leads to the second chorus. They then invert some of the harmony on a repeat of the chorus. The ending could have been stronger, but still a solid cut.
  9. Yes Is The Answer – Mid-tempo 3-4 song that was also a fairly successful single from the album. Dale Shipley sings the verses, and turns in one of his finest performances with Perfect Heart. This song was made for Dale’s voice. I can’t say enough about his lead singing. He’s everything you want in your lead singer, and shows it on this song. After the second chorus they change keys and Funderburk takes the lead on another chorus. Nice tag and a high power ending bring this song to its conclusion. Highlight number 2 of 3 on this album.
  10. How Rich I Am – Wow. Just wow. Here’s highlight number 3. Incredible acappella performance of a song previously recorded by the Imperials. I happen to like this arrangement better than even the Imperials version. It is fairly close to the Imperials’ arrangement for most of the song, but they change up a couple of chords in the middle of the song that become unworldly in their beauty. A sweet harmonic end to a great album.

This album was a major step up for Perfect Heart, and really showed that they belonged with the big boys at the time. Not surprising, given the enormous amount of talent in this lineup and a producer like Otis Forrest. If you have a copy of this recording, dust it off and give it another listen. If you don’t, find one on Ebay or Amazon. You won’t be sorry.

Brian Free & Assurance Concert Tonight!

Pardon the concert announcement again, but for those of you in the Memphis area, Brian Free and Assurance are in concert at Faith Baptist Church in Atoka, TN tonight at 7pm. No admission fee, a love offering will be taken. Visit the church website or call 901-837-2683 for directions.  Of course, I’ll have a concert report next week, and may even have another surprise up my sleeve.

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