Top 5: Greater Vision on Greater Vision

I’m starting a new series of posts that are called Top 5 Artist on Artist.  These posts come from me polling current and/or former members of iconic groups and asking them the best 5 albums ever released by said group.  Up first is Greater Vision.  All three of the current members responded to my request (thanks guys!), so without further ado, here are the top 5 Greater Vision albums as seen by the members of Greater Vision:

5 Live At First Baptist Atlanta (2002)
4 Everything Christmas (2010)
3 Quartets (2003)
2 Take Him At His Word (1995)
1 Hymns Of The Ages (2006)

I find a couple of things interesting. First of all, the similarity in all three responses is incredible. Out of a possible 15 slots for albums to be named, there were only 9 (and Gerald’s list had 6, as he had a tie for 5th).  It really shows the unity and similarity in the way these three gentlemen think.  Also, Gerald nailed the top 5. In order.

So what do you readers think? You’ve seen what the guys of Greater Vision think, do you agree?

Greater Vision Releases Digital Downloads

In their latest newsletter, Greater Vision has announced that they’ve made their out of print albums available for download in a new digital store.  You can access the store here.  Albums are $9.90-$11.99, single songs are $0.99, which is pretty typical for digital downloads.  It’s good to see these albums made available, and it’s a good way to complete your GV discography.  Here’s hoping that other groups follow suit.

NQC Coverage, and Day 1 Summary

Once again, the NQC train is passing me by.  However, I was able to catch a couple of hours of the broadcast via enLighten.  Those of you who follow the blog on Twitter will notice I was doing some tweeting as I was listening.  I will attempt to continue to do so the rest of the week, though most likely not Wednesday or Thursday (church and my son’s soccer practice, respectively).  If you’d like to follow along, you can get to the blog’s Twitter page here.

Of the limited sets I heard last night, the highlight was definitely the Perrys, and specifically Tracy Stuffle singing “Plan Of Salvation.”  What a touching tribute to Tracy’s hero, George Younce, and Tracy more than held his own singing George’s bass lead.  I’m glad I was able to hear it.

The next best set I heard was the New Gospel Singing Caravan.  You can really tell those groups are having fun on stage doing their set, and they were joined in a surprise appearance by the Nelons.  My wife made the statement while we were listening to their set that the Caravan CD was probably her favorite of the CDs I’ve forced her to listen to while I was reviewing them.  🙂

Greater Vision had some sound issues, at least over the radio feed, but once they got them done they turned in a very credible set, with one outstanding performance: Chris Allman singing “I Know A Man Who Can.”  Chris has made that song his own and he absolutely nails it.

Highlights that I didn’t hear personally, but have noticed on Twitter include Karen Peck and New River singing “On The Banks Of The Promised Land” and Karen’s version of “The Star Spangled Banner”, Gold City’s set overall and debuting a new song “Peter, James, and John”, and the sets of the Collingsworth Family (again, they were the major buzzworthy artist last year as well) and Brian Free and Assurance.

That’s about it for day 1.  Follow along on Twitter tonight, I’ll do my best to post some more comments.

Review: Greater Vision – The Only Way

While not the first Daywind CD from Greater Vision since Chris Allman rejoined, this is the much anticipated first album of (mainly) new material of the Allman era, part 2.

Tracks:

  1. He Didn’t When He Could Have Passed By – Written by Rodney Griffin, the album kicks off with this uptempo number that has a bit of a Cajun feel to it.  The group sings the first verse and chorus together, then Gerald Wolfe takes the second verse as a solo.  After another chorus, the key changes and Chris Allman takes the lead.  Allman keeps the melody through the next chorus which lends for some really low harmony on the first half of the chorus.  After taking the key up another half step, Rodney takes the melody for the first half of the chorus which is a better overall sound.  There’s a moderately high tag to end the song.  It’s a very upbeat song and a great opener.  9.5/10
  2. Safe Within His Arms – One of the advantages of Chris Allman rejoining the group is found with this song.  It’s a slower, midtempo tune penned by Allman.  Having another songwriter in the group will pay (and already is paying) dividends in that it will keep their projects from falling into too much of a rut, as has been mildly criticized about Greater Vision in recent years.  Allman keeps the melody all through the song, and there is just something special about hearing a songwriter perform a song that he or she has written.  There is a genuineness and a care paid to the delivery that someone who didn’t write the song can’t hope to convey.  This is one of the stronger songs on the CD.  9.5/10
  3. No Longer Chained – This song, written by Rodney Griffin, pulls a major fakeout on the listener.  The intro to the song will make you expect a big ballad with huge orchestrations, then the last line of the intro reverts to a mid to uptempo light tempo.  DBM correctly pointed out in his review that the chorus of this song is nearly identical to “He’s Still Waiting By The Well”, but where that song was an in your face barn burner, this one is given a much more mellow treatment, even if the rhythm and tempo are similar.  The song tells a story of a Roman soldier that is assigned to the apostle Paul in his later years, and serves as a metaphor that sharing our testimony can cause others to be freed in Christ.  It’s a solid song.  8.5/10
  4. I Know A Man Who Can – Wow.  All I will say is Jack Campbell and Jimmie Davis’ classic is absolutely lit on fire and scorched by Chris Allman.  Nothing else I say will aptly describe this.  Can I give it a 15? 10/10
  5. He’s The Only Way – This is an uptempo number penned by both Griffin and Allman.  On an album where uptempo songs are a bit scarce, this is a good one.  Lyrically it pulls no punches, plainly stating that Christ is “the only way to life everlasting.”  In a world of so-called “tolerance, acceptance, and open-mindedness” the song serves as a much needed dose of truth.  It starts with two iterations of the chorus before the group takes the first verse together.  The second verse is done by Rodney Griffin.  After the subsequent chorus, the key changes and Chris Allman takes the third verse before surrendering the melody back to Griffin on the chorus.  A little interlude with each member taking solo lines a la “My Name Is Lazarus” precedes a key change and Allman taking the melody.  This is really good song and would make a good single for radio.  9/10
  6. Like I Wish I’d Lived – Penned by Rodney Griffin, this is the first single from the project.  Like others have said, the choice puzzles me a bit.  The song itself is fine, it’s a ballad that is sung by Chris Allman that calls the listener to live a holy life, or a life “like I wish I’d lived in the past.”  It’s a good message, and a good performance by Allman, but it seems really subdued for a radio song.  Still, a good song with a great message.  8/10
  7. But God – Rodney Griffin and Twila LaBar wrote this song that was originally recorded by Legacy 5.  Gerald Wolfe takes the lead on this song and turns in a typically solid, workmanlike performance.  Wolfe is one of the most consistent performers in SG, you know exactly what you will get from him, and you know it will be good.  This is another ballad that features good solos on the verses from Wolfe and some nice smooth harmony from the group on the chorus.  Though Wolfe tends to take the baritone part more often these days, Greater Vision still sounds REALLY good with Gerald on the lead and Rodney on baritone.  Another solid song.  8/10
  8. We Still Have To Pray – This Rodney Griffin ballad comes with an interesting message, but a good one.  Even when we are staying in a close walk with God, we still have to pray and keep that close communication open.  Prayer isn’t just needed in the hard times, but when things are going well too.  Griffin gives a tender and poignant vocal on a really strong set of lyrics.  There’s not anything flashy here, no high ending, no “fancy” harmonies, just good singing that puts the focus squarely on the lyrics of this song.  8.5/10
  9. Eternity’s About To Begin – Chris Allman wrote this song that picks the pace back up a bit after the previous three ballads.  This one has a bit of a black gospel feel to it.  Rodney Griffin takes the melody after Allman gets things started.  This is a really catchy tune that would probably do very well as a single.  9/10
  10. Heaven Can’t Be Far Away – This Steve Hurst penned tune was done previously by the group and is revived here.  Gerald Wolfe reprises his lead vocal from the original.  It’s a solid cover, but not quite up to the original.  8.5/10
  11. Another Child’s Coming Home – The disc ends with this ballad from Chris Allman.  It’s a take on story of the prodigal that Allman sings very tenderly.  Like Wolfe, Allman is a great communicator of a message in song, and he shows that ability on this song.  Like “We Still Have To Pray”, there’s not a whole lot of flash or pizzazz to this arrangement, but it’s a good lyric that is presented very well by Allman and the group.  8.5/10

Overall:  9  Since Chris Allman returned to Greater Vision, fans have been waiting for their new “mainline” style project to see what kind of an influence Chris would have in their future direction.  That has been settled with this project.  The group has been given a breath of fresh air, and Gerald Wolfe produced a tremendous album.  Wolfe is one of our most recognizable voices, and carries his part with an air of precision and excellence.  Rodney Griffin gets a lot of attention for his songwriting, and deservedly so, but Griffin has developed into quite an effective vocalist in his own right, and as the years have gone by, he’s taken more and more of the higher lead notes while Wolfe has deferred to the baritone part.  Rodney is a solid singer as well as one of our top songwriters.  As I have said previously, Chris Allman stepped out of a time machine set on about 1995.  He has seemingly lost none of his range, and if anything his voice has matured and improved over the last 15 years or so.  He really brings a fresh energy to the group, almost as much for his songwriting contributions as his vocals.  I do wish there had been more uptempo songs included, as the project seems to drag some after “The Only Way”, but that’s a minor complaint.  Greater Vision fans, and SG fans in general, do not want to miss out on this project.  It’s a great effort that will provide a lot of listening enjoyment and some timely messages.

The Original Greater Vision Revisited

A couple of videos have surfaced of rehearsals by the original lineup of Greater Vision for the reunion concert that was recently held.  (h/t, DJM)  I can’t stop watching the clip of “Sailing Away”, it’s just that good.  I love Pat Barker’s reaction in the background when Gerald, Mark, and Chris just effortlessly nail the cascading harmonies to the inversion on the second chorus.  These videos reinforce my belief that the combination of Chris Allman, Mark Trammell, and Gerald Wolfe was the greatest male trio SG has ever seen.  Wow.  The scary thing is they sound just as good, if not better, as they did 20 years ago.

Sailing Away

Jesus Is Here

Greater Vision Re-Releasing “You Can Have A Song”

Greater Vision has announced in their latest e-newsletter that they will be re-releasing their You Can Have A Song project on CD.  This was one of the first two albums the group recorded with Chris Allman, Gerald Wolfe, and Mark Trammell.  Previously this project was only available on cassette.  They also state that this will be a limited edition release of signed and numbered CDs.  Details are promised to be forthcoming.  Keep a watch out!

Singing News Curse 2010

One of the common jokes about SG is that we have our own version of the NFL’s “Madden Curse”, the “Singing News Curse.”  With just one cover left for the year, let’s review the status of the curse for the year, shall we?

  • January: Dixie Echoes (Pat Barker departs)
  • February: Crist Family (no changes)
  • March: Brian Free & Assurance (Randy Crawford departs)
  • April: Greater Vision (Jacob Kitson departs)
  • May: Hoppers (no changes)
  • June: McKameys (no changes)
  • July: Mark Trammell Quartet (no changes)
  • August: Gold City (Roy Webb, Josh Cobb depart)
  • September: Blackwood Brothers (no changes)
  • October: Kingdom Heirs (Billy Hodges departs)
  • November: Booth Brothers (no changes)
  • December: ????

Unless my math skills have dulled over the years, that’s 5 out of 11.  It’s interesting to note of the groups that haven’t had changes, 3 are primarily family based groups, which tend to experience less turnover by nature, and one has been in existence less than a year (Mark Trammell Quartet).  That leaves us with two established non-family groups that have been stable since their cover appearance, and 5 that have experienced changes.  I’d say the curse is still alive and well!

NOTE:  This post is solely intended to be read in a good-natured, tongue-in-cheek manner.  If you have not read it as such, please check the batteries in your sarcasm meter.  🙂

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