The Rambos – “Sonshine” (1973)

by | Feb 1, 2023 | LP Review, Reviews

As mentioned last week, 1973 brought us 2 new albums for the Rambos, and “Sonshine” was the second release for the group that year. The cover features a bright and cheery cover shot of the Rambos happily interacting with a group of children. Because of the cover, for years I thought this was children’s album (I’ve never been a big fan of children’s records…even as a kid I never cared for them), and when I finally realized it was not a children’s album and I actually paid attention to what songs were on it, I quickly found me a copy and added it to my collection in the early 2000s.

The album features a gatefold cover, and when you open it up you have the lyrics to all the songs on the inside, which was a really nice bonus at that time. On the back of the album, there is a nice trio of successive outdoor shots of the Rambos. Produced by Bob MacKenzie and orchestrations arranged by Bill Pursell, the album credits 9 musicians (in addition to the string section) and it has a bit of a different feel to it than any of their previous efforts. After several years of doing mostly concerts, the Rambos started re-focusing their efforts back into the smaller churches and taking on more of an evangelistic approach to their music, and this album was a reflection of that shift. With only 4 songs written by Dottie and 5 penned by Reba (4 songs plus 1 partial song as part of a medley), you definitely hear the stylistic shift that was being made with this album. It wasn’t like a big switch was thrown, but when looking forward, you can see this album was the start of their push towards a more progressive sound, as they were shifting away from the Southern Gospel concert scene and focusing more on church music.

The recording starts off with one of my favorite Reba Rambo penned tunes, “Precious Jesus”, which features Dottie on the second verse. This soulful number charted briefly in mid-1974 and I love the black gospel feel of this song, which completely contrasts the next song, “Let Go of this World”. Featuring fiddle, harmonica and dobro accents, the song has a very distinct bluegrass flavor to it. It’s not one of my personal favorites, but it does show that Dottie could write and sing bluegrass, as she challenges the listener to, “let go of this world…get wrapped up in God”.

The country care-free feel of the up-tempo, “Ain’t it Good to See the Sunshine Again” is a delightful song featuring guitars, dobro and harmonica and features both Reba and Dottie. It’s a happy song with a galloping beat, reminding everyone that despite the gloomy days we may be experiencing, there is sunshine on the other side and it’s always good to see the sunshine again.

The dramatic feel of “They Didn’t Take Him to Calvary” reminds us that “they didn’t take Him to Calvary, they didn’t take the blood that He shed, the crown that He wore didn’t cause the sweat that fell from my Master’s head, and the spear didn’t take the water from His side, the soldiers couldn’t pull the tears from His eyes…they didn’t take the life that He gave.” Featuring Dottie with some stand out lines from Reba and Buck, it’s a stark reminder of the price Christ paid for our salvation.

The tempo picks up for the bouncy acoustic feel of, “Jesus Won’t you Come and Take Us Home”, which features Dottie. Written by Reba, it’s edgy and totally different from anything the group had recorded up to this point, and it’s one of my favorite vocal performances by Dottie. I instantly fell in love with this song the very first time I heard it. It’s progressive, but not over the top and it does a great job finishing out the first side of the album. I also love the false ending as well as the guitar work on the song. I think that this would be a great song for someone to revive again!

Side two gets underway with a new Jack Campbell song, “March Around the Throne One Time for Me”. This up-tempo number was a big hit for the Rambos, peaking at #2 in February 1974 and it became a big concert favorite for the group. With a heavy fiddle and dobro track, the song has the feel of an old-fashioned country hoedown, and really seemed to connect well with their audiences. I love how they pay tribute to Jack Campbell with a shout out to his song “Oh What a Happy Day” (which was also a huge hit for the Rambos) in the second verse. The Lewis Family did a great rendition of the song on their 1987 “Crowd Pleasers” live album and the Perrys also did an excellent cover of the song on their 1998 recording, “Come to the Fountain”. This too, would be a great song for someone to bring back today!

Slowing things down a bit, “The Touch of Mama’s Hand” continues the country feel as Buck sings this song Dottie wrote about his own mom. Filled with fiddle and steel guitar accents, the song is a wonderfully descriptive tune and a beautifully written tribute to Buck’s mom.

The pace picks up for the song, “Free”, which was written by Reba. This contemporary tune has a whimsical feel to it and features the group with a children’s choir, along with some nicely done orchestrations. The song was a slight musical departure for the group and whenever I listen to the song, I envision everyone running and frolicking out in a field somewhere, singing at the top of their lungs (think “The Sound of Music”). This fanciful tune is followed by the slower tempo of another Reba penned song, “Calvary Will Be My Refuge”. Featuring Buck on the first verse and Reba taking the second verse, it’s a powerful song and is one of my personal favorite songs written by Reba. I also really love the epic feel of the orchestral track and how it fades out in the end.

The album closes out with a unique medley that starts with the very Southern Gospel sounding tune “Let’s All Sing a Song About Him”, which was written by Reba. Filled with steel guitar accents and a happy beat, after a couple choruses, the music quickly takes a dramatic turn as it segues into the Andrae Crouch classic, “Jesus is the Answer” before moving on to the worship classics, “He is Lord” and “Alleluia”, where they are joined by a choir, lifting voices in praise along with the Rambos. The intensity continues to build throughout the medley and it’s a very stunning conclusion to a very upbeat recording, and it was indicative of the direction the Rambos were heading with their music in the coming years. When I first heard this album and this medley, I thought it was very different for the Rambos, but I have always enjoyed listening to the medley and think it is a highlight of the album and a wonderful finale; and given their refocus on church work, the medley works perfectly in that environment. What I wouldn’t give to be able to hear them sing this live from back in the day!

As the Rambos made this purposeful shift in their music and ministry, they still performed at major concert and ticketed events, but they started working in more and more churches, as they wanted to ensure their music got into the local churches (which is where they started), regardless of the denomination. In fact, soon after this shift, they started working more in the newly developed arena of Christian Television and were frequently found on all three major Christian networks, CBN, TBN and PTL. The Rambos even appeared with Jimmy Swaggart on his television program as well. All this exposure on Christian television helped bolster the Rambos in their mission of focusing on the church, since it was mostly churched people who tuned in to those networks. This focal shift also helped push Dottie’s songs to church choirs, both large and small, and further entrenched her songs into the hearts of believers, and non-believers, everywhere.

Please check out my music page on Facebook for more content related to Southern Gospel Music including more discography reviews on other groups, we well as other thoughts and discussions related to Southern Gospel Music.  Please like and follow my page at

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.



James Hales

James Hales

James is a lifelong fan of Southern Gospel Music. Being exposed to the music through his dad's record collection as a 7 or 8 year old boy in the late 70's, James grew to love the music of the Happy Goodmans, Kingsmen, Inspirations, Rambos, Florida Boys and others. James has been a staff writer for Absolutely Gospel since 2000 writing music reviews and various articles, and he has contributed to Musicscribe and for several years as well. James also writes for his own music page on Facebook as well, via James' Music Page (


Tell us what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

The Rambos – “Naturally” (1977)

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…

%d bloggers like this: