by James Hales | September 14, 2022 9:24 AM
For the last couple of albums, the Hinsons made their foray into some uniquely creative styles, but “Hinsongs” marked a return to a more “traditional” Hinson sound. Produced by Kenny, this album ended up being one of their biggest selling and best loved albums in their career. Appropriately titled “Hinsongs”, it was another album filled with exclusively Hinson material with 7 songs written by Ronny and 3 written by Kenny. One thing I picked up on when perusing the production credits, is that this album was obviously a massive undertaking. I had mentioned in earlier articles about the large list of musicians being utilized on an album, and this one takes the cake with 20 musicians, along with a string and brass section and 3 background vocalists. Breaking things down a bit, there were 4 pianists/keyboard players, 3 bass players, 4 drummers, 7 guitarists and 2 steel guitar players! This album was obviously recorded over the course of multiple days, with the likelihood that it was spread out over the course of several weeks and maybe even months.
The cover shot was quite inventive for its time, with the Hinsons pictured sitting atop the albums’ title, “Hinsongs”. It’s a very professionally done cover and, given the number of musicians and the obvious time it took to record this album, Calvary Records spared no expense for this recording. I wonder if they knew when work began on this album, what a special and integral part of the Hinson legacy this album would become? When listing out their greatest albums during the span of their career, this album always makes its way to the top of the list, and rightly so…it was a career album and I think the Hinsons spent the remainder of their career trying to top it.
The recording starts off with one of the Hinsons biggest hits, “Two Winning Hands”. Featuring that classic Hinson sound with the steel guitar and fiddle, the group also went back to the tried-and-true formula with Ronny singing the first verse and Kenny taking the second verse, as well as the chorus. Filled with their trademark play on words, eloquently written by Ronny, the song went straight to #1 for 3 months from July through September 1983. When any Hinson fan lists the greatest songs in the Hinsons repertoire, this song is usually one of the first ones mentioned, and rightly so.
With a nice bouncy piano intro, the tempo picks up the pace as Kenny sings the peppy, “Family Resemblance”. With what sounds like the Hinsons providing their own background vocals on the call backs, it’s a really fun song to listen to, before the tempo slows down a bit as Yvonne delivers the goods on the Easter themed, “You Ain’t Seen the Last of Me”.
Kenny takes the lead on the medium tempo, “Something Keeps Pulling Me Home”, which is one of my personal favorites. Following in the steps of such songs as “He is Leading the Way” and “Who is on the Lord’s Side”, the song became an excellent opening song, as evidenced on their 1984 live recording, “Lift the Roof Off”. Considering the times that we live in today, it’s most appropriate and would be a great song for someone to bring back!
The Hinsons weren’t particularly known for doing recitations, but using their iconic song “The Lighthouse” as a backdrop, Ronny delivers a particularly moving recitation called, “The Light”. Every time Ronny gets to the end where he tells the old man, “Now, you are the light”…it reminds me of the wonderful transformation a person goes through when they become a child of the King.
With a thumping bass, blazing guitars and blaring harmonica, side two is off to a rollicking start with the up-tempo, “Noah”. Featuring Ronny, Eric and Kenny respectively on the verses, it is an exciting song and it’s one of my personal favorites from this album. I vividly remember as a kid I would listen to this song over and over again…I just couldn’t get enough of it.
With its iconic steel guitar intro, Kenny delivers his signature song, “Call Me Gone”, which became the Hinsons third #1 song (their second #1 from this album) in July and August 1984. The tempo is slightly faster than what was normally done in concert, and while Kenny dynamically and charismatically delivered the recitation in concert, it’s a little sterile on this record. It’s a little striking going from “I’m not going to be here” on the album to “I ain’t gone be here!” in concert! Nonetheless, this song became the perennial signature song for Kenny Hinson and is forever identified as “his” song. The longer Kenny lived with the song, the song became Kenny Hinson, and Kenny Hinson became the song. It was always the highlight of any Hinson concert when Kenny would break out with “Call Me Gone”, and the song goes down as one of gospel music’s all-time greatest hits.
Picking up where “The Light” left off, Ronny steps up for a solo performance on the brass and bongo infused, “Shine On” before Kenny sings the upbeat, “The Cost of Living”. With its electric and steel guitar driven track, the song was written by Kenny for the working man, and it’s one of the few times (at that time) that Southern Gospel addressed real, everyday problems people faced; and given the political environment at the time, it was most timely. It easily became a concert favorite, as many people easily identified with the song and the joyful declaration that, “the cost of living is going up, but I’m going higher!”
The tempo slows down as Eric closes out the recording with, “Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt”, reminding us that Jesus is with us and that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Featuring a nice steel guitar and fiddle track, it’s a great song of faith and hope, and is the perfect closing song for this album.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this album marked a return to a more traditional Hinson sound, and it had a huge payoff for the Hinsons! This became one of their biggest selling albums and it also celebrated a first for Southern Gospel Music, as the Hinsons were the first group to have two #1 songs from the same album with “Two Winning Hands” and “Call Me Gone”; those 2 songs alone remained an integral part of their program for the next 6 years.
I felt that “Hinsongs” had a good variety of songs and styles, and while it was somewhat of a return to what brought them to the table, it was still a trailblazing album that was a step ahead of the average SG recording in both overall quality, music and lyrical content. Also worth mentioning, is the fact that the Hinsons hadn’t fallen into the rut that so many groups do with in-house songwriters, where everything sounds the same. Ronny and Kenny were on top of their game writing songs with strong lyrics that said things in a fresh and exciting way, which kept a continuous running well of songs; keeping fans coming back to their concerts again and again and again!
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