After the huge success of “Touch of Hinson, Glimpse of Glory”, with its rollicking, upbeat numbers and heartfelt, soulful tunes, the Hinsons took somewhat of a laid-back approach with their 1975 record, “Harvest of Hits”. Given the title, you’d think the album would have been filled with hit songs. But while the album only garnered one major hit, over the course of time, several of these songs became country gospel standards and were all very important milestones in the Hinson legacy. The album overall, is a bit more slower paced than some of their previous efforts, and I think the album may have been slightly overshadowed by being sandwiched between two of their most popular albums at the time.
Produced by Nelson Parkerson, some of Nashville’s finest played on this album including Johnny Gimble, Jimmy Capps, Terry McMillan (one of his earliest gigs) and Jack Smith, among others. It was recorded at the famed, Hilltop Studios, which is where most of the albums by the Hinsons were recorded. The overall quality of the recording matches the standard of the day, and it features some truly wonderful moments.
The recording starts off perfectly with one of my personal favorites, “He is Leading the Way”. The first time I heard this song, I fell in love with it…from the music, to the vocals and to Larry wailing out the high harmony at the end. It’s just a perfect song and the Hinsons used this as their opening song during the mid-70s. The Perrys also did an excellent rendition of the song back in 1997 on their “Crossings” recording.
The tempo slows down as Kenny sings his own composition entitled, “Once Again”. This thought provoking and convicting song is written on the thought that although we didn’t physically crucify Christ that day, every time we sin, we crucify Jesus to the cross again. It’s one of my favorite songs from this album and I’d love to see someone today pick this song up and record it. Enough people thought it was a great song too, as the song made it to #17 in the Singing News chart in November 1976.
With its ¾ time beat, “Looking Away” picks up the tempo a bit and leads perfectly into the country stylings of “Homesick to Go”, which features Kenny, along with Larry providing some hauntingly beautiful harmony throughout the song. Filled with fiddles and steel guitars, Chris nor Ronny sing on this song, and it’s one of their first truly rich country sounding tunes that the Hinsons became known for, and it’s truly a classic. It’s one of my favorite country crooning tunes that Kenny sings, and it’s something I could easily see someone like George Jones or Merle Haggard singing and recording back in the day. Mike Bowling did a splendid job reviving this song back in 2001 on his solo recording, “The Call”. This would be another great song for someone to bring back today!
With each of their records so far, the Hinsons have always included at least one hymn/old song, that they re-arranged to fit their style, and Chris (her only feature on this album) closes out this side with a nice up-tempo rendition of the classic hymn, “The Unclouded Day”. This is the only song on this album that is not written by either Ronny or Kenny.
Side two starts with one of the Hinsons biggest hits, “The Touch of the Master’s Strong Hand”. Written by and featuring Ronny, it’s one of the first songs they wrote that feature a bit of a play on words, which became one of the Hinsons’ songwriting hallmarks during their career. The song spent 15 months in the Top 20 charts, peaking at #2 in December 1976 as well as in February and March 1977. The song pretty much became Ronny’s signature song, and it has remained one of my favorite songs that he is featured on.
Kenny is featured next on the Hinsons’ biographical song, “The Little Storefront Church”, which was written by Ronny. The song is a wonderful tribute to their humble beginnings where they first started singing almost 10 years prior. It was a concert favorite for a number of years, as fans were charmed by the nostalgic feel of the song.
Rounding out the recording is the medium tempo, “Don’t Let The Ship Sail Without Me”, and the upbeat campmeeting feel of, “Where The Song Will Never End”, which features Larry.
If you’re keeping count, Ronny penned 7 of the songs on this album and Kenny provided 1 song. Like their last album, it features only 9 songs instead of the usual 10 or 12 songs, which was the norm at the time. With this album, the Hinsons drove their roots deeper into the country gospel soil with their definitive country sound; even dressing down for the cover shots, conveying a more casual country look, which seemed to fit the group really well.
Like I stated at the beginning, this was a more laid-back album; but make no mistake, the Hinsons were just getting started! Even though there were no real barn-burners found on this album, which the Hinsons were known for at the time, we did find some truly wonderful songs that reminded us not to fear because He is leading the way, and though we’re homesick to go, we know we can always feel the touch of His hand in our lives. We’re also reminded that this world is not our home and we’re headed for a better land where clouds never darken the sky and that one day soon, the song will never end! This record was truly a seed that was sown into fertile ground, and it reaped a bountiful harvest!
The Rambos – “Naturally” (1977)
This week, James reviews one of the most iconic albums in the Rambo’s repertoire, their 1977 album, “Naturally”, which featured their #1 classic, “I’ve Never Been This Homesick Before”. Check it out…
The Master’s Strong Hand still ministers to me in a special way. I don’t think I’ll ever quit listening to the Hinsons.