by James Hales | August 3, 2022 10:13 AM
This was the first album I ever owned by the Hinsons. My Great-Aunt Margaret gave me this record back in the mid-1980s and it’s one of my most cherished records; due in part for the sentimental value because I dearly loved and adored my Aunt Margaret, and it’s also one of my personal favorite Hinson albums!
First, that cover! I’ve seen this circulate in various circles as one of the worst album covers in all genres of music. I personally don’t think it’s THAT bad. The story goes that the album with the larger picture and the lightning bolt on the right side was the original release. When the album came out, it created such a negative stir, that the record company ended up releasing a new cover with a smaller group picture and a smaller, orange lightning bolt at the top/middle. For the record, I much prefer the bigger picture with the bright lightning bolt on the right side (that is the copy I have) over the other one. I think the cover with the smaller picture looks like a cheap bootleg cover. But I digress…
Regardless of the cover, this was one of their best records during this era. Coming off the success of their electric live album that was released earlier in the year, the Hinsons were nothing but “High Voltage”; those 2 words would be the perfect description for the Hinsons! This album showcases strong forward progression by the group, as far as the overall quality of the music they were producing. Produced by Nelson Parkerson and recorded at Hilltop, the list of musicians reads like a who’s who including such names as Jimmy Capps, Buddy Harmon, DJ Fontana, Ron Oates, Johnny Gimble, John Hughey, Sonny Garrish and others. These musicians breathed life into these new songs, which represent some of the Hinson’s best offerings at the time and the overall feel of the album is definitely a step up from their previous studio albums.
The recording starts off in true Hinson fashion with the Kenny Hinson penned, “Campmeeting Days”. Though the song only appeared in the charts for one month, it became one of the Hinsons most popular songs during this era, and it was an exciting part of their concerts every night for several years. The Hoskins Family did a great rendition of this song back in 2000, and I’d love to see someone bring it back again!
As the tempo slows down, Chris takes the lead on “Burdens Are Lifted Away”, which was Chris’ signature song for the remainder of her time with the Hinsons. Though the song did see some chart action, it never broke the Top 20, but like “Campmeeting Days”, it took on a life of its own and became a fixture in their concerts for several years. In fact, Chris brought the song back on her 2016 solo recording, “The Hinson Side of Me”.
Larry takes the lead on his first composition recorded by the group, “Lord Remember Me”, which I have always thought was a fantastic song and it is one of my favorite songs that feature Larry. I think he does a tremendous job interpreting his prayerful lyric before the tempo picks back up for the campmeeting style of “Love Took it Away”. With a feel very similar to “King Jesus Will Roll My Burdens Away”, it’s a Public Domain song that the Hinsons arranged for themselves, and it fits perfectly on this album.
“Lord Send Me” slows the tempo back down as it brings this side to a close. Written by Ronny and featuring Ronny on the first verse and Kenny on the second verse, it’s a wonderful prayer in song that recalls the sound and feel from their early days.
The up-tempo, “You Can’t Hold Back the Dawning” features a bright and happy feel to it and it is one of my favorites from this album. This is another song that has Ronny singing the first verse and Kenny belting out the second verse, and it has that exciting Hinson sound that really resounded with their fans.
Kenny steps up next to sing “Just Let Me Fall”, and it’s a wonderful play on words that just drips with country pride! Featuring mournful flourishes on the harmonica, steel guitar and fiddle, it’s a song that Conway Twitty or Merle Haggard could have tore up if either of them ever got a hold of it, but Kenny, the consummate singer that he was, sings it to perfection. Mike Bowling did a great job with the song on his solo album, “Influenced & Inspired: Remembering Kenny Hinson”, that was released back in 2006. On his version, he was joined by the late country singer, Daryle Singletary on the song.
The tempo is kicked back up for the bouncy, “He Can”, featuring Ronny on the verses and Kenny taking the lead on the chorus, which was another popular vocal concept for the Hinsons. The song was a big hit for the group, spending about 9 months in the Top 20, peaking at #5 for 3 months in a row from November 1977 through January 1978. Over time, the tempo for the song was sped up and what started as a medium/up-tempo song in 1976, turned into a barn-burning fast song by the time they recorded it on their 1978 live album, “On the Road”! Either rendition is a true gem and it’s one of my personal favorite Hinson tunes.
“He Will Forgive” features Ronny and Chris and it’s truly a magnificent song depicting the true love and forgiveness of Christ, before the tempo picks up for the closing song, “That Same Hand”, which has that classic Hinson feel, and features Ronny and Kenny taking their respective verses.
I just can’t help but be in love with this record. Following such a successful live album was no easy feat, but the Hinsons pulled off a spectacular album to follow up their “Live & On Stage” LP. Featuring 9 brand new Hinson tunes (7 by Ronny and 1 each by Kenny and Larry) and 1 Hinson-arranged classic; it’s the Hinsons at their finest…it’s truly a “High Voltage” recording!
You can easily hear the growth the Hinsons are experiencing musically, vocally, stylistically, and lyrically on this album. The potential that may have been hard for some people to recognize in those earliest albums is being realized here on this album; and they are not done yet! The title “High Voltage” is definitely a befitting label for the group, and they would continue to grow their gifts and expand their creative wits; and while some of their musical expressions would definitely be outside of the box, no one but the Hinsons could have pulled them off like they did.
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