The Definitives: “If That Isn’t Love”

This is one of Dottie Rambo’s most popular songs, and it has been recorded countless times by numerous artists.  When the song was current, there were several great versions, not the least of which was done by the Rambos themselves.  The Downings also had a great cut of the song on This Is How It Is…Live.  In later years the song has been recut by the Brian/Ivan/Mike era Gold City, and John Rulapaugh recorded a fantastic version with the Dove Brothers.

The definitive version of this song, however, comes from this classic 1970 live album by The Imperials.  Jim Murray, Terry Blackwood, Roger Wiles, Armond Morales, and Joe Moscheo on piano created an arrangement of this song that has not been equaled.  The song starts with a guitar dominated intro before the group enters on the first verse singing the first line or so in two part harmony.  The group splits into full four part harmony on the phrase “lonely hill of Golgotha” and the cascading harmonies just sweep you away.  The key changes and Jim Murray takes the second verse as a solo, with the quartet rejoining him on the last line of the verse.

The arrangement of the chorus is what really sets this version apart.  The first line contains an echo of the first phrase, then the chord progression on the phrase “the ocean is dry” is unlike any version you’ve heard.  Armond walks down the scale repeating that phrase.  Then there is a thrilling cascade downward of harmonies on the word “sky” in the next line.  The second half of the chorus repeats this pattern, before the group tags the song with some beautiful vocal work repeating the phrase “It had to be love” twice.

My suspicion is that Joe Moscheo Terry Blackwood was responsible for this arrangement, and it is the most exquisite, creative arrangement that I’ve heard from him.  If you have this album, listen to this track again and try not to be wowed by it’s splendor.  If you don’t have this album, find someone that does and have them play this song for you.  It’s magnificent, gorgeous, shimmering, and any other term denoting beauty you’d like to use.

YouTube Clip #51: Sisters – “Until He Comes”

I realize that the last YouTube clip post we did also featured the Sisters, but this is just too good not to share.  Via DBM, here is a clip of Sisters singing what I consider to be one of Dottie Rambo’s greatest songs, “Until He Comes”, from the Awards presentation a couple of nights ago.  There’s not much I can say about this other than WOW.


UPDATE:  The video has apparently been removed.  Hopefully it will find its way back online at some point, but if you missed it, their performance of the Rambo classic with Josh Singletary at the piano was incredible!

Your Top 10 SG News Stories of 2008: A Statistical Analysis

Several bloggers have posted their top 10 news stories for the past year, but I thought I’d do something a little different.  Here are the top 10 news stories on this blog, based on the number of views each post received over the past year.

  1. Matt Dibler Leaves The Inspirations
  2. Greg and Charlotte Ritchie Leave Jeff & Sheri Easter
  3. Dottie Rambo Passes Away
  4. Guy Penrod’s Sabbatical from GVB
  5. Jerry Ritchie Passes Away
  6. Bobby All Hospitalized
  7. GVB’s Lovin’ Life Track Listing Released
  8. Monument Quartet Changes
  9. Scott Rogers Departs Crossway
  10. The Segos Controversy

I find this to be quite an interesting list.  There are some surprising inclusions over glaring omissions here.  I would have expected Wilburn to have appeared here, and definitely the GV tenor swap.  However, by a quick count, Kitson’s replacement of Waldroup was down around #18, and I hadn’t even found the GC lead swap yet.  I think this provides an interesting look into what you, the reader, found to be the most interesting news stories.  Also, understand that I didn’t count non-news items (reviews, pure opinion posts, etc.) in this list.  Quite interesting, to say the least.

Dottie Rambo Memorial Service

The Singing News has a recap of what sounds like a truly fitting and touching memorial service for Dottie Rambo posted here.  It is interesting to see the names of all of the industry folks who made it to the service to show their respects.

Hidden Gems: Dove Brothers – “If That Isn’t Love” (Dottie Rambo Tribute)

Our third and final installment of Dottie Rambo’s hidden gems was the 1999 recording by the Dove Brothers of Dottie’s classic “If That Isn’t Love.”  This was on the custom recording that was later picked up by Homeland Sing The Quartet Way.  John Rulapaugh sings the verses on this song and has the melody on the chorus.  I’ve always thought this was one of John’s finest performances with the Dove Brothers.  John has one of the best tenor voices we’ve had come along in a long time.  He’s not overly high, but he has such a pure, pleasing tone.  His performance of this song really brings out the emotion found in the message of the lyrics.  Great song, wonderful writer who will be sorely missed, and a great performance.

Hidden Gems: Gold City – “Tears Will Never Stain” (Dottie Rambo Tribute)

Here is another obscure recording of a Dottie Rambo classic. Good luck finding this one, unless you happen to own Gold City’s custom Super 70’s Gospel Hits series from 1991 (I do, obviously). As this was a budget 3 for $10 cassette series recording, the instrumentation is sparse, and the production very raw, but Dottie Rambo’s amazing song still shines through. Ivan Parker sings the lead and delivers a very powerful, emotional rendition of one of of Dottie’s greatest songs. Brilliant, moving lyrics and a great vocal performance make this a hidden gem recording of this song. If you don’t have it, scour ebay for it!

YouTube Clip #6

I had the honor of attending The Steve Hurst School of Music for 3 summers. One of those years Dottie Rambo came and did a concert. There was something special about hearing those songs I had heard all my life being sung by the author. I laughed, cried, and worshiped during what would turn out to be one of my favorite concerts I have ever attended. It was just her on a stool with her guitar. No fancy lights, orchestras, or stacks. Just an incredible lady sharing her amazing stories and her gifts.

I looked through several YouTube clips this mornings trying to find one to share on this site. I think this one is perfect. It starts out with the powerful “He Looked Beyond My Fault” and goes to Dottie singing “Too Much To Gain To Lose” with The Martins. Dottie has gained very much indeed.

Hidden Gems: Imperials – “We Shall Behold Him” (Dottie Rambo Tribute)

This blog has become known for its Hidden Gems series, so as a tribute to the memory of Dottie Rambo, I’m going to post a few “Hidden Gem” type recordings of some of her most popular songs.

First up is one of her greatest songwriting achievements, this 1982 GMA song of the year was popularized by Sandi Patti. However, an (in my opinion, anyways) equally good recording can be found on the 1984 Imperials album Sing The Classics. At the time, the Imperials consisted of Jim Murray, Paul Smith, David Will, and Armond Morales. This song featured Paul Smith singing the lead, and I consider this to be one of, if not the greatest vocal Smith put on record with the group. Some people may not realize this, but Paul Smith had the range to sing tenor, and in fact sang over Jim Murray when Jim had the lead on songs. On this song, Smith is frequently the highest voice in the harmony stack, but does so with an incredible quality. His solo lines on the verses are incredibly emotive and really bring out the power of Dottie Rambo’s lyric. Sandi Patty may have won the Dove award for Dottie, but seek out the Imperials recording of this all time classic. Dottie had to have been extremely pleased with how this one turned out.

In Memoriam: Dottie Rambo

The Southern Gospel world has been shocked today by the news of Dottie Rambo’s tragic death in a bus accident. Please be in prayer for her manager, Larry Ferguson, who remains in critical condition at last report. Dottie was one of the most legendary singer/songwriters in our genre, and her list of accomplishments and songs would stretch for miles. We have truly lost another legend. There will never be another Dottie Rambo.

Update: Please also be in prayer for all those injured.  In all there were 7 people on the bus, and all sustained varying degrees of injuries.

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