March 12, 2008 7 Comments
This album was recorded in 1973 and features Bill Baize, tenor; Donnie Sumner, lead; Ed Enoch, baritone; and Ed Wideman, bass. This album is notable in that the only appearance of JD is on Old Man Death, where he sings “I Won’t Have To Cross Jordan Alone” and performs his now famous recitation. This was Wideman’s only album with the group, and a few years later he passed away tragically. Also of note, songwriter Phil Johnson was the pianist for the Stamps at the time, and he had 2 songs on this LP, including the title track.
- Leaning On The Arms Of Jesus – This is a midtempo number that has a bit of a contemporary feel with rock style electric guitars. Donnie Sumner sings lead and does a great job. There is some really nice harmony in the background. As expected, there are snippets of “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms” interspersed throughout the song. Some hot guitar licks fade the song out after the last chorus and tag.
- God Will Take Care Of You/I’ve Never Been Out Of His Care – Built around the hymn “God Will Take Care Of You”, most of the medley is the song “I’ve Never Been Out Of His Care”, which showcases some nice solo work by Bill Baize and smooth harmonies from the group. A couple lines of the chorus of the hymn lead to the tag with a nice suspended ending. Good solid tune.
- I Am The Reason – Big ballad that features Ed Enoch. Ed turns in what I consider to be one of the finest performances of his Stamps tenure. Very powerful lyrics and a brilliant interpretation by Enoch highlight this tune. The group’s sound did not suffer at all when Enoch and D. Sumner switched parts. The arrangement on this song is impeccable. One of the highlights of the album.
- Must I Go And Empty Handed – I featured this track as a hidden gem not too long ago. The acappella lines at the beginning of the song are incredible. This is another highlight of the album. Ed Wideman had a great voice, what a tragic loss to an automobile accident. This may be the best song on the LP.
- If His Coming Were Today – This song starts at a bit of a mid-tempo and features Ed Enoch again. Midway through the song, the tempo ramps up to much greater speed and the rhythm changes to a typical SG cut time feel, though the drums are playing an almost syncopated rhythm. Very solid singing by the quartet, with some nice counterpoint harmony after the tempo change. Nice tune, with a nice high tag at the end.
- Jesus Cares For Me – Mid-tempo country flavored song featuring Donnie Sumner. His performance is fine, as is the group harmony on the chorus. Again, the rhythm changes between the verses and the chorus. It’s an OK song, but is a little too country for me. The group really does the traditional to slightly contemporary sound better than the country stuff. The rhythm changes between the verses and chorus are interesting, though.
- I Like What’s Happened To Me – This is Bill Baize’s power tenor ballad. Baize was one of the first tenors to embrace this type of song. Brian Free is today’s best comparison in terms of being able to deliver these types of songs. This is another highlight of the album. I’d love to hear Baize resurrect this song with the current Prophets quartet. His performance of this strong song is flawless. Great arrangement with some nice cascading harmony on the last chorus. Bill Baize really shines on this song.
- Old Man Death – This is JD Sumner’s only appearance on this song. A very touching recitation by JD that never ceases to be a tear jerker. He reprised this on the last Stamps album before his death, The Final Sessions. His solo on a couple lines of “I Won’t Have To Cross Jordan Alone” are especially moving.
- What Then – Moving performance of this song by Donnie Sumner. His ability to sing ballads is very underrated. Donnie has an incredibly expressive voice, and this song gives him a chance to showcase it. This song has great lyrics that challenge each of us in how we live our lives and what we have done with Jesus. Donnie is the quintessential lead singer, one of the best we’ve ever had. He had smoothness, power, and range. His arranging abilities are incredible, which is the icing on the cake. It’s been good to see him back in the fold on the Gaither videos. This is a great performance by him.
- Good Old Days – This is one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days on end. The tambourine introduction is great, as is the presence of the instrument throughout the song. This is a fairly traditional mid to uptempo convention style song. The quartet really turns in a great performance, as do Ed Enoch and Donnie Sumner on their respective verses. I could have done without the twangy steel guitar, but it’s really a minor flaw on an otherwise great song. Bill Baize takes the lead on the last couple of choruses. The ending of this song is very unique. They put a typical high tag on a false ending, then come back in with unison repeats of the first verse as they fade out.
This is a great album, and probably from top to bottom the best studio album from JD and the Stamps. Great arrangements, powerful lyrics, and incredible vocals are the norm on this album. This is a “desert island” album, as Nate likes to term them. (If you were on a desert island and only had X number of albums….) If you have a copy, pull it back out and listen to a great LP. If you don’t, find a copy on eBay or scour some antique shops. It’s well worth it.
*Note: Thanks again to John C. for the scan and the tidbit about P. Johnson!