CD Review: The Ultimate Blackwood Brothers

CD Review: The Ultimate Blackwood Brothers

blackwood brothersRATING: 4 Stars
LABEL: Daywind Records
SONG TITLES: Click HERE

Each of the 4 CDs in The Ultimate Blackwood Brothers includes 20 songs. The first disc begins with some early radio transcriptions, and the last 10 songs on the fourth disc are taken from their 2014 release Forever. In between, you can hear how the group’s sound developed over the course of 80 years.

The 5-pocket Digipak opens fully to reveal a timeline on the back that highlights key events in the group’s history. The artwork on each of the four disc faces gives them the appearance of a vinyl record. The 12-page booklet found in the fifth pocket features a brief history of the group, personal comments and acknowledgements from Billy Blackwood and a non-exhaustive list of group members from 1934 to the present.

Obviously, there are way too many songs for me to cover in any detail, but I will mention a couple. The first song on the first disc is also the shortest in the collection. “Give The World A Smile” clocks in at just 40 seconds. Another song of note is “The Robe” featuring R. W. Blackwood, Sr. The Blackwood Brothers recorded this song on the night before the fatal plane crash that took his life along with the life of bass singer Bill Lyles and a teenager named Johnny Ogden in June 1954.

The collection includes 78 more songs including many you will surely recognize along with a few you may not yet know. If you have some extra time on your hands, you can click HERE to read about the ten songs from Forever. Kyle reviewed that CD earlier this year. If you still have some time on your hands, click HERE to read a brief review of The Song Will Go On that I wrote shortly after it came out in 2010. The Ultimate Blackwood Brothers includes six songs from that CD.

As good as it is, I did notice a couple of issues with this collection. I’ve reviewed CDs for roughly fifteen years now. A pet peeve that has developed from that experience is seeing CD liner notes that fail to credit the songwriters. Considering the historical context of this collection, it is particularly distressing to see the songwriters snubbed. I was holding out hope that the year each song was recorded would be listed, and I’d have considered it a major bonus if the original source (album/78/transcription) had been indicated. But they didn’t even bother to look up the names of the people who wrote the songs. That complaint goes to Daywind, by the way, not the Blackwood Brothers.

I also question why they included six songs from 2010’s The Song Will Go On and all ten songs from 2010’s Forever. (Oddly, no songs from 2012’s Sweet Songs About Heaven are included.) Fans who bought The Song Will Go On, Forever or both will be less inclined to buy this collection if they realize they’d be buying so many of the same songs twice.

Those observations aside, keep in mind that this collection carries a suggested retail price of $39.95. That’s a good dose of history and a lot of music for the money. I encourage you to buy the physical CD set, since it appears that no digital booklet is included when you buy the set as an MP3 download. The enclosed booklet and timeline printed on the Digipak add value to the overall product.

If you already own the 5-CD collection Rock-A-My-Soul from a few years ago, don’t hesitate to buy The Ultimate Blackwood Brothers. Rock-A-My-Soul features RCA recordings exclusively while The Ultimate Blackwood Brothers collection has no RCA material. There is no duplication between the sets. You may get some of the same song titles, but those are different recorded versions.

Category CD Reviews, 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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