Hidden Gems: Friends IV – “The Great Medley”

This song is from the 1994 debut album from Friends IV, An Offering, and features Chuck Sullivan as tenor, Terry Blackwood on lead, Larry Orrell as baritone, and John Hall on bass.  You’ve probably heard this song before, but not exactly this version.  Anthony Burger removed all but the vocal stacks on the chorus and played this song very frequently as a piano solo.  While Anthony’s playing is exquisite, the original recording from Friends IV is just as exquisite.

Arranged by Lari Goss, this medley starts with a line from  “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, then moves on to “How Big Is God”,  which features a brilliant bass solo from John Hall and some incredibly well done harmonies on the second verse that wrap around Hall’s lead vocals.    Hall had the unenviable task of following JD Sumner with the Blackwood Brothers, which has tended to take some of the sheen off his reputation as a vocalist, but he really is a great bass vocalist.  Though he tends to be buried some in the harmonies, he shows some nice upper register.  The group then moves through a chorus of “How Great Thou Art” which again features Hall with Terry Blackwood.  Their transitions between songs and tags are simply magnificent.  They tag the medley with simply singing “Great is thy faithfulness/How great thou art, how great thou art” with an incredibly powerful ending with Goss’s trademark full orchestration behind them.

While Anthony Burger really brought this song to the forefront by playing it for numerous Gaither events, and I’m pretty sure it made at least one video, it’s well worth your while to pull out the original vocal version by Friends IV.  It’s a great performance by an all too short lived group.

About Wes Burke
I'm a .NET developer and Southern Gospel music fan. Married with a wonderful family.

13 Responses to Hidden Gems: Friends IV – “The Great Medley”

  1. I love that CD! Their follow-up project “One Voice” is incredible, too.

  2. The Baritone says:

    Yeah, I wish that group was still going.

  3. natesings says:

    Loved this song! Great CD. Another favorite from the CD is He’ll Find A Way featuring Sullivan. Wasn’t Buddy Mullins in this group at one point? I thought I remembered seeing them on TBN or some station once and he was with them.

  4. burkesbrainwork says:

    Not sure about Buddy Mullins, but my dad saw this group at a choral music convention in Memphis when they were just starting, and Terry Franklin sang tenor with them.

  5. John says:

    I love this rendition. Very good.

    A question: I have listened to this version for years, and I always thought that I was listening to Jim Murray singing the tenor. I had long since lost the case for the project, so all I had was the cassette, so I did not have any idea this was not him. Are there more than one versions of this song, or does the guy singing tenor on this really, really sound like Jim Murray?

  6. burkesbrainwork says:

    John, the Friends IV version is definitely Chuck Sullivan, though he does have a bit of a Jim Murray type sound. The only other version I know about is Anthony Burger’s.

  7. Daniel Wade says:

    Chuck is the tenor on both projects. Stephen Wright (not the comedian) did a bass/baritone part on their “One Voice” project. Chuck lives in my town. He can still tear it up.

    • I read your comments in regards to Friends IV Quartet on-line. Do you have any idea where I could get another copy of the “An Offering” project. You mentioned one of the singers lived in your town. I love this c.d. Mine is about ruined, only a few songs still play. Hope you can help. Thank you.

  8. Larry Orrell says:

    It was hard to get any recognition for these two projects!
    It was my idea to put something different together and boy did we hit some walls. But regardless, these two projects were the start of a fresh sound that I could hear—the “Four Freshmen & The Carpenters Stacked. Oh well, so much for Art & Ingenuity.

  9. Pingback: Does SG Value Artistry and Creativity? « Burke's Brainwork

  10. I have a c.d. “An Offering” by Friends IV but would like to purchase another. I’ve played it so often, it skips in places. Does anyone know where I can find one? Thank you.

  11. Pingback: CD Review: Legacy Five, Great Day | Southern Gospel Yankee

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