Remembering The Greats Review

Rating: 5 STARS

Artists: Various Artists
Label: Daywind Records
Website: www.daywindrecords.com
Producers: Norman Holland, Ed Leonard, Crystal Burchette, Steven Hoyt and Doug Butts

Songs: “I’ve Read The Back Of The Book,” “Master Builder,” “Champion Of Love,” “Look For Me,” “God Walks The Dark Hills,” “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now,” “My God Is Real,” “Old Country Church,” “I Was There When It Happened,” “I’m Standing On The Solid Rock,” “I Call Him Lord,” “I’ve Never Been This Homesick Before,” “Because Of Whose I Am,” “First Day In Heaven,” “Terrible Time Down There,” “Climbing Up The Mountain,” “Seawalker,” “The Lighthouse,” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

Remembering The Greats is a 110 minute video recorded at the National Quartet Convention in 2004. The product is also available as a double CD (which contains more extensive liner notes than the DVD). Hosted by Gerald Wolfe and Roger Bennett, the event includes a cast of more than 50 well known Southern Gospel singers as they pay tribute to eight classic groups . . . the Cathedrals, Happy Goodmans, Blackwood Brothers, Speers, Statesmen, Rambos, Hinsons, and Imperials. Every Southern Gospel fan should buy a copy of this project. In fact, Daywind Records ought to seriously consider making this an annual event at NQC and turn it into an ongoing series of videos.

Why is it so good? Like most good products, there’s a number of reasons. Fresh faces like Mercy’s Mark, Karen Harding, and Triumphant Quartet provide interpretations of great tunes like “I’m Standing On The Solid Rock,” “Because Of Whose I Am,” and “Terrible Time Down There.” Several cross group combinations are included. A pair of Rambo-McGuires (Reba and her daughter Destiny) join the Crabb Family for “I’ve Never Been This Homesick Before.” Legacy V and the Mark Trammel Trio sing backup to Greater Vision for the final chorus of “Champion Of Love.” Wolfe and Trammell form a quartet with Libbi and Tracy Stuffle for “God Walks The Dark Hills.”

In addition to the singing, there’s a fair share of reminiscing. Judy Nelon speaks at length about her friendship with Vestal Goodman. Ben Speer provides some insight about his father’s teaching methods as he and his siblings were learning how to sing. Ed Hill recalls the Statesmen coming to St. Louis when he was a teenager. Chris Freeman humorously remembers how she came to join the Hinsons after seeing them sing at NQC. Joe Moscheo explains just why the Imperials were more or less forced to explore other styles of music after the departure of frontman Jake Hess.

The video also includes a short biography for each group. Gerald Wolfe narrates these as old photographs are displayed. The bios are included in the CD liner notes as well.

There’s a ton of great singing on Remembering The Greats. Of course, there’s also a predominant element of nostalgia throughout. More importantly, the product goes beyond sharing tidbits of group trivia. There’s a lot of “meat” provided. The viewer gets an overall sense of just why these groups chose to perform gospel music and why those paying tribute now follow in their footsteps. I did notice a few very brief moments where the production quality of Remembering The Greats could have been improved . . . an audio overdub here and a different editing choice there would have made the overall quality a bit better from a technical point of view. However, the actual content is so good that it supercedes any minor flaws. Remembering The Greats is a “Must Buy,” and therefore has earned 5 Stars.

Category CD Reviews

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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