Hype/Reality: Down East Boys – Amen

Hype/Reality articles are a twist on the traditional CD review.

First, I’ll provide you with a few sentences about a CD or a song. These will typically come from a paid music promoter or from another reviewer who is enthusiastic or derogatory. After giving you their hype, I’ll add my own opinion (aka “reality”) and assign a grade ranging from A to F.

Here’s the twist. An “A” doesn’t necessarily mean the CD or song is fantastic. It simply means the sensational comment from another source matched my opinion.

Our first entry comes from Crossroads. Today, I received an email encouraging me to review the latest CD by the Down East Boys.

The Hype: “Thought you knew the Down East Boys? Well, hit your erase button and think again! Amen is among the best recorded male quartet vocal performances ever. It has the intensity of the best of the Kingsmen, the precision of the best of the Cathedrals, and the sincerity of the best of Gold City.” (Crossroads’ email subject line: “Can We Get A Witness?”)

The Reality: There seems to be an attempt to level with us in the first two sentences. “Hit your erase button” is an indirect acknowledgement that the previous work by the Down East Boys wasn’t very good. Understand, I’M not saying their older recordings were bad. That’s just what most readers would naturally infer from “Thought you knew?…think again.”

It’s the third sentence where this publicist really throws caution to the wind. Only a diehard Down East Boys fan would accept the notion that this CD is among the best male quartet recordings of all time. “Best…ever??” Not even close. But that wasn’t enough. Amen is then said to occupy the same territory as three of the most beloved quartets of all time, and not on an off day either…when they were at their peaks! Take the Kingsmen, Cathedrals and Gold City at their best, and you have three amazing and unique groups.

I do like Amen. “Redemption Draweth Nigh” and the title track are the most familiar songs on the CD. “Redemption Draweth Nigh” is more effective than “Amen,” but I like the fact that neither arrangement was an entirely direct cover. There are several predictable song lyrics and moments on this CD where the vocal arrangements play it safe, though. If I were assigning my usual star rating, Amen would fall in the 3 1/2 to 4 Star territory. But today, we’re here to assign a grade on how accurately the CD reflects the hype coming from Crossroads.

Lives Up To Hype: D

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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  1. Reply November 18, 00:27 #1 quartet-man

    Interesting twist on reviews. I could tell by the hype itself that it was not gonna rise. Not only have I never seen the Down East Boys match each of the quartets mentioned, but then to go on and say they matched all three with different criteria in some ways saying that they could do something none of the other groups could do had to be bunk. I mean face it, if the three things that were supposed to be the three quartets’ greatest strengths were accurate, then it sounds like these three were lacking the things the other two excelled at. I am not saying I agree totally with this, but just using their own claims and taking what I think is the natural assumption.

    I hate hype. It is one thing to maybe go just a little past,but whoever came up with this is full of it. There is a place that sells computer parts and another that sells audio equipment whose writers do the same thing. They make substandard or worse things sound like the greatest things ever. It might work with people once, but unless they buy into the hype and don’t examine it or have any point of reference or comparison, they probably won’t fall for it again. So, crying wolf is a bad idea.

  2. Reply November 18, 01:02 #2 Josh

    I got the same email, and the “hype” actually made me not even listen to it.

  3. Reply November 18, 16:59 #3 yankeegospelgirl

    I think Crossroads needs someone else to write publicity stuff for them.

    • Reply November 18, 17:04 admin Author

      Extreme hype is not unique to the material I receive from Crossroads. That just happened to be the first one I chose.

  4. Reply November 18, 19:19 #4 Crossroads Music


    We’d like to challenge you to a throwdown!

    For this weekend only, we’re going to give away three of our favorites from the CD, at this link: http://crossroadsmusic.com/freesingles/

    Readers, head on over and download them. (If you don’t have an account, you only have to give an email and a password to create one.) Give them a listen. Then come back and tell David why he’s wrong—err, we mean, if he’s wrong. Or tell us that it’s every bit as good as we said it was! :o)


    P.S. We thought about taking credit for swamping your site and crashing your server. (“We are legion. We are Anonymous…”) But your readers probably wouldn’t get the joke. But hey … why put this up there and then have the site down all day, so that your readers can’t log on to tell you that you’re wrong? :o)

  5. Reply November 18, 20:41 #5 Crossroads Music

    We’re on!

    Oh, and if you thought this was something, you should have seen our first draft. This is nothing compared to that!

    • Reply November 18, 22:02 admin Author

      You’re going to love tomorrow’s post…probably go up around midnight if you want to hang around.

  6. Reply November 18, 22:12 #6 Grigs

    This smacks of a publicity stunt, but if it is, it’s creative. Hey, free music is free music.

    • Reply November 18, 22:22 admin Author

      None of this was planned when I made the post this morning. The complete conversation between me and Crossroads has taken place in the comment section.

      By the way…regarding the link was there in the update, then gone:
      It will be in a new post that’s going up right after midnight. I decided to get a little more creative with the comparison.

  7. Reply November 19, 05:54 #7 Crossroads Music

    Grigs – Nope, we didn’t pay David to say what he said about our press releases. We didn’t even plan it with him. So what we did isn’t really a publicity stunt; it’s called taking lemons and making lemonade! :)

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