by James Hales | September 21, 2022 9:48 AM
My review for this album will be relatively short compared to the others, as I have only lived with this album for a couple of months, as I was finally able to it to my collection. I find that the longer you live with an album, the more you have to say about it. Another reason for being rather short is probably due to the fact that I am not an avid fan of Christmas music (I know, shame on me!). A Christmas recording has to really offer up something great to get and keep my attention, and the Southern Gospel genre typically doesn’t do a great job with Christmas music, as they are usually sub-standard recordings when compared to mainline releases. But I digress…
By 1983, the Hinsons had achieved tremendous success and were riding high on a huge wave of popularity. Rather than release a new mainline album (they had released at least 1 album every year since 1970), they decided, instead, to release a Christmas album for 1983. The album is produced by Kenny, and outside of some production and studio credits, there are no other credits given for musicians, background vocals, etc. It’s a very good recording and it is nicely done, and it is definitely above par for the average Southern Gospel Christmas recording. For the album, the Hinsons included some standard Christmas classics as well as a handful of new Christmas tunes.
With “O Come All Ye Faithful” as a backdrop, as an introduction to the album, Ronny and Kenny set the stage for a warm, family Christmas from the entire Hinson family, before Kenny kicks things off with his own composition, “It’s Christmas Day”. This lively, light-hearted tune is one of only 3 songs on this album penned by either Ronny or Kenny.
Ronny slows the tempo down for the classic, “Away in a Manger” before Yvonne sings, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. Both songs have pretty simple and straightforward arrangements, and they are both nicely done.
The tempo picks back up for the country feel of “That’s How Christmas Came to Be”, which was written by Ray Smith, the same gentleman who wrote “Who is On the Lord’s Side” that the group recorded back in 1977. Featuring Kenny, this is the first actual “group” song on the recording, as the previous 3 songs were solo performances by Kenny, Ronny, and Yvonne, respectively.
Side one closes out with Eric singing “Silent Night”. Sung by himself with the help of background vocals, it’s a nice rendition of one of my favorite Christmas songs. The song begins with simple accompaniment, with each verse building to a final crescendo and a nice, quiet finish.
Ronny starts off side two with his own song of declaration, “It is the Day” before Kenny sings the traditional, “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, as the group joins him on the chorus. Mid-way through the song, the tempo picks up to a nice pace and it’s one of my favorites from the recording.
Featuring steel guitar and twin fiddles, Ronny sings the preachy, “Have a Very Scary Christmas”. While most Christmas songs convey a very bright and happy expression, as Ronny’s song points out, many people are missing out on what Christmas truly means and should be about. I always thought this was an intriguing title to a Christmas song, so it was nice to finally hear what the song had to say.
Kenny sings my all-time favorite Christmas song, “O Holy Night” before all the Hinson family (spouses and children) gathers around to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, as a grand finish to the album.
There will be some Hinson fans who love this album for the simple reason that it’s the Hinsons (and that is perfectly fine…some would accuse me of the very same thing concerning the Happy Goodmans), but for me it’s an “okay” album. Overall, it’s a very nice and tastefully done Christmas album, but nothing groundbreaking. The new songs are my favorites from the recording, as they offer up something fresh and new. As for the Christmas standards that are included here, they are good and are all arranged…well…pretty standardly!
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