As much as things stay the same, things will change. Sometime after “Lift the Roof Off” was released in 1984, Eric Hinson decided it was time to come off the road; enter Ronny’s son, Bo Hinson. There appears to be a little span of time between when Eric left and when Bo joined, as a gentleman named Billy Ray Brown sang with the group in late 1984. As far as I know, the group did not record with him, nor have I seen any pictures or You Tube videos of him with the group, so I am not sure how long he was there. After Bo joined, he became a protégé of his Uncle Kenny, and over time he started sounding more and more like his uncle, and the group had a unique blend with this configuration during the last few years they were on the road. This would be the final aggregation of the group before they would disband some 3 years later in 1988.
Coming off the highly successful, “Lift the Roof Off” album, this is the first mainline studio recording by the Hinsons since their 1982 album, “Hinsongs”. Following such an electrifying live album, coupled with a personnel change and the first mainline studio album in 3 years, it had to be a daunting task ensuring this was the best album they’d ever done. Produced by Kenny along with special production assistance being provided by Rodney LaShum and Darrell LeCroy, who were both members of the Hinson band, the album was a very good album, but I think it lived in the shadow of the 2 giant albums that preceded it. Nonetheless, there were some fantastic songs on “It Runs in the Family”, which was a great title too. I am a bit surprised though, that they didn’t write a song with that title for the album. The album itself came out with a lot of hype over one particular song that never did quite materialize into what I think the Hinsons, or Calvary Records had planned. More about that later…
One other thing to note, the album was originally released with a much darker picture on the cover, and I think after the first run, they re-shot the cover picture with a lighter background. By the time I saw them in November 1986, they were selling the copy with the new cover.
Whereas most of the Hinsons’ albums started off with a fast or medium tempo song, this album starts off with the slower feel of “The Journey”, which feature Ronny, Bo and Kenny respectively. The song depicts the dark and sad truth for those who don’t know Jesus and how the dark forces of hell are enveloping their very soul. By the end of the song, it is revealed that the awful reality is that we (the church) have been neglectful in doing our part to show them Jesus. I’ve always been very partial to this particular song, and I always found it to be very deep and thought-provoking. I think many people tend to overlook it, but it’s a profound piece of lyric written by Ronny. Personally, I’ve always felt it was a hard song to follow and thought it may have been a better placement for it to be the last song for the album, or the last song on the first side. Just my two cents worth…
The tempo gets kicked up for “Let’s Do It Again”, which features Kenny. Featuring the electric and steel guitar along with the fiddle, it’s a wonderful country sounding tune that fit the Hinsons perfectly. I wish this song had been released to radio, as it’s a fantastic song that also seemed to go over really well in concert. There’s an outstanding live video clip of the Hinsons singing this song on You Tube from Opryland that really showcases Kenny’s charismatic delivery of the song as well as the Hinson band.
The tempo slows down as Yvonne sings one of my favorites by her entitled, “He’s Even Blessing Me Now”, before the tempo goes into overdrive for the controversial novelty tune, “The Original Superman”. Filled with electric guitars, horns and a pulsating beat, I remember the stir this song made when it first came out. Letters were posted from readers of the Singing News with readers sounding off their distaste of the song and felt it was sacrilegious comparing Jesus to Superman. I know the Hinsons took a gamble on recording the song and didn’t seem to be afraid to release it to radio. The song never broke the Top 20 chart though, and I’ll admit, it’s not one of my favorite songs by the Hinsons, but I remember watching them perform it on PTL during one of their all-night sings, and they tore it up! In fact, there is a clip of the Hinsons on You Tube from Rome, GA where Kenny is selling the song like nobody’s business and it’s just an incredible live performance! (Check it out about the 1 hour, 5-minute time stamp) Kenny knew how to sell the song and the crowd was buying what he was selling that night! This seems to be a good example of how sometimes a song may not go over well in the studio, but if done right, can go over really well in concert. The song did enjoy a bit of a resurgence as Bo’s group, the New Hinsons, brought the song back and the song landed them a performance on radio/TV personality, Don Imus’ show, “Imus in the Morning”, back sometime around 1999/2000.
The tempo slows back down as Bo steps up to sing “Call Me By Name”, which rounds out this side. Featuring the steel guitar and fiddle, it’s a great song of consecration and though Bo was very young, he does a good job on the song. Interestingly, it sounds like something Larry would have sung back in the day.
Side two starts out with the calypso feel of the medium tempo, “Envy of Angels”, which features Kenny, before the tempo picks up for “Old Time Preacher Man”. With Ronny singing the first verse and Kenny taking the second verse and chorus, they change it up a bit and have Yvonne taking the lead on the last chorus of the song. The song features excellent piano and guitar work, and it has the feel of the Hinsons’ early days, and it’s one of my favorites on the recording.
Still riding the wave of success from “Call Me Gone”, Kenny writes and sings a new song with a recitation in the middle entitled, “Let Me Tell You His Name Again”. Featuring a nice string section (I love the orchestral run at the beginning of the song), the song didn’t garner near the success of “Call Me Gone”, but it did well in the charts, peaking at #2 in November 1986.
The medium tempo, “I Don’t Know Any Better Than Jesus”, written by and featuring Kenny, closes out the recording. Having that classic Hinson feel, the Bishops (remember them?) also did a great job covering this song back in 1989.
The album only has 9 songs; Ronny penned 6 songs and 3 songs were written by Kenny. It looks like they scaled things back slightly as there are 13 musicians credited, plus strings and horns; but it took 3 photographers for the cover work, which is a really cool cover, by the way. Outside of “The Original Superman”, the album was pretty tame overall and kinda had an easy feel to it. It wasn’t a blockbuster, but it was a good album overall. After the success they had enjoyed the previous 4-5years, they were entitled to “ride the wave”, so to speak, and relax a bit. This isn’t an album that is usually mentioned when fans are naming great Hinson albums, but like I said at the beginning, I think coming off the success of “Hinsongs” and “Lift the Roof Off”, this album was greatly overshadowed. I also find that it appears a lot of people tend to overlook some of the really great songs that are on here and I think songs like “The Journey”, “Let’s Do it Again”, “He’s Even Blessing Me Now” and “Old Time Preacher Man” were some of their best songs during this time period and definitely worth someone bringing back and recording again today.
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