CD Review: Mark Trammell Quartet – Rewind

CD Review: Mark Trammell Quartet – Rewind

marktrammellquartet2015rewindmaxConcept/Producer: Mark Trammell
Song Titles: Heaven (originally appeared on Love To Tell The Story in 2002); Coming Out, Moving In (originally appeared on Always Have A Song in 2008); I Am Free (originally appeared on Beside Still Waters in 2004); When They Ring The Bells Of Heaven (originally appeared on Beside Still Waters in 2004); I Needed To Hear That (originally appeared on This Time in 2005); I Know That I Know (originally appeared on Always Have A Song in 2008); Loving The Lamb (originally appeared on Always Have A Song in 2008); It’s Jesus (originally appeared on Something Good in 2003); When Compared To God (originally appeared on This Time in 2005); If Only Just A Few (originally appeared on Always Have A Song in 2008)
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5)

Rewind features the Mark Trammell Quartet singing six songs recorded by the original Mark Trammell Trio (Mark, Eric Phillips and Joseph Smith) and four more songs that were recorded by the trio after Dustin Sweatman replaced Smith.

Just for fun, let’s compare a few of these new versions with the originals. “Heaven” was on the very first CD released by the trio, and it was pitched a step higher on that recording than the new quartet version on Rewind. This new version is quite a bit better. The addition of several step-out lines for bass singer, Randy Byrd, is an notable improvement, plus the overall mix is about ten times better. That first CD had some production issues.

“It’s Jesus” is the song that helped establish a musical identity for the trio on their second full-length CD in 2003. The addition of Randy Byrd’s bass notes on Rewind makes an already powerful song sound even more solid. He’s barely heard in the mix, but it’s enough to make a difference.

The original trio had been singing together for three years when they recorded “I Needed To Hear That Today” on This Time in 2005. (The last word of the title is missing on the Rewind artwork, so I’ve listed it that way in the list of song titles above.) This has always been one of my favorite songs from that early group. The vocals on the chorus are arranged a bit differently on Rewind with the tenor stepping up on the words, “We’re going home.” I prefer the earlier recording by a thin margin.

“When Compared To God” was also recorded first on This Time in 2005. The fuller sound of four parts on the choruses gives the new Rewind version a slight edge, but that is countered by Eric Phillips’ effortless tone on his verses with the trio. Let’s call this one a draw.

“When They Ring The Bells Of Heaven” is about fifteen seconds shorter on Rewind than the original version on 2004’s Beside Still Waters. This is because a repeated line of the chorus at the end of the song has been deleted. It’s just as well, because the tag on the earlier version felt irrelevant.

Always Have A Song was one of the trio’s best recordings, so it’s no surprise to see four songs from that CD included on Rewind. I’m a bit surprised that “Safe On The Glory Side” wasn’t included. That was the most memorable track from Always Have A Song, and it was always a crowd favorite. I was also surprised that nothing from 2007’s Once Upon A Cross made the cut. It would have been interesting to hear quartet versions of songs like “Even Thomas Couldn’t Doubt It” and “Won’t It Be Wonderful There.”

The thoughts in the preceding paragraph are along the lines of “what if,” and should by no means be considered to be negative criticisms. My one genuine complaint about Rewind is that bass singer Randy Byrd is used mostly as a prop. He gets a few step-out lines, but that’s it. They should have found at least a couple of verses for him to sing. I’d go so far as to say the concept for this CD almost demands that the bass singer be emphasized, nor marginalized. To convert trio songs to quartet songs, show off the bass singer.

I do love the overall concept, though. The budget to put out a standard compilation of songs from the trio days would have been relatively small. Instead, they’ve spent money to cut new vocals and remix these songs that their long-time fans should remember. The result is a product that’s both new and familiar. Rewind is a lot better than any boring compilation would have been.


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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 and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

MusicScribe Comments

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  1. Reply November 05, 16:47 #1 Bill

    I believe I saw somewhere that this is a Daywind release. I am guessing it would be more cost effective to release through Daywind since these songs were all on the Daywind label and Daywind owns all the tracks?

    • Reply November 05, 18:20 David Bruce Murray Author

      Not necessarily, but they’ve been on the Daywind label from the beginning, so I’d be surprised if this were released through another label.

  2. Reply November 06, 09:58 #2 James Hales

    I thought MTQ left Daywind and began working through their own record company?

    • Reply November 06, 11:10 David Bruce Murray Author

      You may be right. I hadn’t heard they’d left. At any rate, this one is distributed through Daywind.

      • Reply November 06, 11:35 Aaron Swain

        The first release on that label was “Your Walk Talks.”

        Good catch on the Daywind distribution; I didn’t even pay attention.

      • Reply November 06, 12:30 James Hales

        “Your Walk Talks” was released on Crimson Road Productions. Did they re-release that via Daywind? Maybe the independent route didn’t work out and they went back to Daywind?

      • Reply November 06, 12:36 coomercove

        They definitely left Daywind. Mark announced the formation of Crimson Road Productions (or something along those lines) at the same time they started taking pre-orders for the “Walk The Talk” project. If you look at the packaging on “Rewind,” you will see a copyright notice that I believe says “Produced by Crimson Road Productions for Daywind Records.”

        • Reply November 06, 13:11 David Bruce Murray Author

          I see that now on Your Walk Talks.

          So, to revise my earlier comment, I should say most of their CDs were on Daywind.

          Rewind does have a Daywind product code, so they must be the exclusive distributor. My review copy came from Daywind.

          • November 06, 13:35 James Hales

            “Produced by Crimson Road Productions for Daywind Records”…okay, that makes sense to me. Thanks!

          • November 06, 15:50 David Bruce Murray Author

            Did anyone notice that coomercove got the MTQ album title confused with a Gold City title? :)

          • November 06, 15:54 bravesfan513

            I did the same thing in a blog post when it came out.

          • November 07, 08:27 coomercove

            LOL I am a Gold City nerd. Always have Gold City CD titles on my mind.

  3. Reply November 06, 15:48 #3 bravesfan513

    The original had Eric Phillips stepping out in the chorus, right?

    How about that challenge for Blake Buffin? “Hey, for your first recording with the quartet, here’s a bunch of super-high Eric Phillips arrangements!” He did a good job.

    • Reply November 06, 15:48 bravesfan513

      Original of “I Needed to Hear That Today”. Probably should have included that bit of info.

      • Reply November 06, 16:15 David Bruce Murray Author

        Yes, the tenor steps out on both versions when it gets to the chorus “We’re going home,” etc. However, the new version has Buffin walking up two steps on the word “home” in sync with the harmony vocals that are also moving. On the original, Eric holds out “home” on the same pitch for two beats, then jumps up a third on the third beat.

        As far as the range goes, they did drop “Heaven” by a whole step, I think. The other four I compared in my review were in the same key as the originals. I didn’t check the other five. Overall, Buffin sounds good on these songs.

        And, by the way, if anyone is wondering, it IS Buffin singing on _Rewind_. I expect Dustin Black had recorded these tracks since they already had artwork made with his photo and everything, but I was assured that the production version of _Rewind_ is all Buffin and not a mixture of the two.

        • Reply November 06, 16:18 bravesfan513

          Definitely Blake…he’s got a distinctive voice.

          I see what you mean now…the difference between “step up” and “step out” in my head. :)

  4. Reply November 11, 12:54 #4 Shane Sparks (@shanesparks89)

    I find it so interesting of the song order with “I Know That I Know” and “I Needed to Hear That” both those two and “Loving the Lamb” as well as “It’s Jesus” follow through with the exact same keys and modulations. Although “I Know That I Know begins a half step lower than “I Needed”. Maybe it’s just me who notices these things, but should one have been swapped out with the other in between those two?

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