The Rambos – “Crossin’ Over” (1979)

by | Mar 29, 2023 | LP Review, Reviews

1979 brought us some trailblazing albums in the SG genre…”Feelings” by the Rex Nelon Singers, “Better Hurry Up” by the Goodmans and “Prime” by the Hinsons. You can add the Rambos’ “Crossin’ Over” album to that list, as it’s the most creative and progressive album to date for the group. Looking at the cover shot, you’d be sadly mistaken if you thought it was a country sounding album…far from it! Given the title of the album, the Rambos were “Crossin’ Over” the bridge to the contemporary side, and they pulled it off flawlessly. The harmonies are flawless, but gone is that unique Rambo sound, as it appears the group tried to reinvent themselves with this album. The album features several songs that would easily be found sung on a church platform, either as a worship song or as part of some choral performance. While the album may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it was a phenomenal album and was one of the most creative masterpieces that came out of the 70’s. In fact, the album was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1980, and rightly so.

The album was produced by Phil Johnson, with string arrangements provided by Jack Williams and Bergen White. This album is the first time we see Dony McGuire’s name listed, as he provides piano/keyboard work (along with David Huntsinger), and he also provides some vocal arrangements along with David Huntsinger and Donnie Sumner. With all but one song written by Dottie, the album features massive orchestral arrangements as well as additional background vocals on most songs as well. There literally is a colossal wall of sound behind the Rambos and it’s an album filled with big arrangements and ultra-creative thinking. Also, judging from the liner notes, Patti Carpenter stepped back and allowed Reba to return to the group to record the album, and you definitely hear Reba’s powerful vocals throughout the recording on both lead vocals as well as background vocals. Reba is still flying high as a solo artist, and didn’t “officially” return to the group, but only stepped in to record this album with her mom and dad. It would have been neat though, to hear what this album would have sounded like with Patti!

Modern disco sounds abound with the contemporary sounding opening number, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”, which Reba co-wrote with David Huntsinger and Bonnie Luedeka. As most Reba fans know, she has a deep affection for all things related to “The Wizard of Oz” and the themes that run through that storyline, so you catch a lot of that in some of Reba’s songs; case in point the line, “we’ll click our heels, dream of home and we’ll be flying away…”, which is found on this song. It’s an infectious tune that will stick in your head long after the music stops! Reba also included the song on her 1980 solo album, “Dreamin’”.

One of my personal favorites from this album is the sentimental, “Nothing Like Home to Me”, which features Buck. I have always adored this country flavored tune, and although my growing up years weren’t exactly like Dottie’s depiction in the song, its nostalgic undertones and warm, gentle feel takes me back to the many wonderful memories of my own childhood, and I can’t help but wax nostalgic when I hear the lyrics, “There’s a special kind of feelin’ ‘bout going home, friendly arms to greet you at the door, blackberry jam, country ham, chicken on the stove, I’ve dreamed myself back home a thousand times I know…the closest thing to Heaven’s going home”. The song is a succulent musical treat and a delightful throwback to the early days of the Rambos back when they sang a lot of songs recalling the wonderful days of yore.

With its unique keyboard sounds and thumping bass, the music takes on a funky beat for, “Take Me For A Cleansing”, which features Dottie. It’s a rather quirky tune, but it’s a fun song to listen to before the tempo slows back down for another one of my favorites, “Travelin’ Man”. Featuring Buck, the song is a brilliantly written reflective tune that Dottie wrote recounting her journey and deep affection for her Savior…”I’ve written of bad times, valleys and trials, left a few tears to mark the sad miles, but counting the good times, the journey’s been grand, touring life with the travelin’ man…we’ve been uphill and downhill, like most travelers do, with each golden sunrise the journey’s brand new, ask me tomorrow if I’d do it again, anytime with the travelin’ man”. The song features that classic Rambo inverted harmony with Buck, Dottie and Reba switching out the melody throughout the song, and it’s a highlight of the recording for me.

Dottie steps up for the final song on this side entitled, “I Will Not Overshadow”. I love the musical dynamics of the song, and it’s a profound and humbling song of worship, declaring “I will not overshadow but I’ll stand in the shadow, I will not take Thy glory away, I will not draw attention to myself giving honor, but I’ll stand in the shadow and give Him the praise”. This is such a deep song reminding everyone that all the glory, honor and praise goes to Jesus Christ, and that no one should ever overshadow that!

Side 2 starts with one of the most incredible and amazing songs Dottie ever penned, “Behold the Lamb”. As the song builds to a mighty crescendo, Reba delivers the goods with this one and its one of the most powerfully dynamic worship songs ever written…the majestic music track, stunning background vocals (that falsetto ending by Reba is…just…wow!) and the arrangement is absolutely breathtaking (I love the drums during the last chorus…almost has the feel of a marching band). I fell in love with this song the very first time I heard it and am always struck with emotion each time I hear it. David Phelps recorded an incredible rendition of the song on his 2005 recording, “Life is a Church”.

As the mood shifts to a more quiet and intimate moment of worship, Buck and Dottie are featured on another wonderful song entitled, “I Just Came Into His Presence”. I love the swells in the song as the song has the feel of ocean waves coming in one after another. I would have loved to been in the same room with Dottie when she penned these beautifully descriptive words…”I just came into His presence, and my feet are standing on the hallowed ground, seems I’m close enough to touch Him and my heart can hear Him speak without a sound…I sense a thousand angels hovering near, and my soul cannot contain the sound of the glory hallelujahs that I hear, and the brightness of His face excels the brightness of the stars in magnitude…I just came into His presence, Allelu”. The song is entrancing and is a true highlight of the recording.

With its thumping bass, the tempo picks up for the dramatic flair of “The Taste of the Lamb”. Drawing a parallel with the triumphant exodus from Egypt and the coming exodus of the Church, the song has an excited expectancy to it, much like “Midnight in the Middle of the Day” did. The song is a jubilant song of triumph, and is an excellent anthem for the church…”singing freedom marching through this water wall, singing freedom watching Satan’s army fall, leaving bondage with a shout, the taste of the Lamb still in our mouth!”. You can’t help but shout “Hallelujah!” when the song is over!

I absolutely adore the mournful French horn on the song “In and Out”, and Dottie’s performance is flawless. I was captivated by this song when I was a kid and it’s still a stunning song for me to listen to. Taken from John 10:9, it’s a brilliant reminder of the freedom we have in Christ and the comfort we have in following Him…”How peaceful His voice, oh how restful the sound, oh what a measure of comfort I’ve found, giving me freedom to all of His kingdom, the Shepherd is leading me in and out”. The harmonies are fabulously flawless, and the song does remind me a little bit of that old Rambos sound from the late 60’s and early 70’s.

Ending on a celebratory note, “Going to a Wedding” is another up-tempo song which ends the album like it begins…disco gospel! It’s a very bright and cheerful song, and I’ve always loved the ending where they go round and around with each one singing, “it might just be tonight!”. Ending things on a happy note, it’s the perfect closing song.

Knowing I loved the Rambos, my sister gave me this record for my 9th birthday, and I quickly discovered that this was not the Rambos I enjoyed listening to from my dad’s record collection. At that time, their “Live” album from 1971 was the most recent Rambo album I had, and “Crossin’ Over” was far, far away from what they sounded like back then! I thought the Rambos had “crossed over” to the dark side! But, as I grew older, the music from this album eventually became part of the soundtrack of my youth, and I learned to love many of the songs on this album, while also gaining a deeper connection with the lyrics. If you noticed, I used a lot of Dottie’s lyrics in my review of this album, as I felt they were some of her strongest and most profound she’d ever written, and once again proved that Dottie was way more than a one-dimensional songwriter. In fact, I firmly believe that any one of these songs on this album could stand toe to toe against anything else out there today!

While this album doesn’t have that pure Rambo sound, I can still appreciate the creativity and beauty contained within its grooves. I consider “Crossin’ Over” to be the height of creativity at the time for gospel music (probably rivaled only by Rusty Goodman’s 1978 album, “You Make it Rain For Me”). When this album came out, I’m sure that a lot of long time Rambo fans were not appreciative of the musical direction this album took, and I can just hear the traditionalists saying, “They done gone contemporary!”…but the Rambos were skipping down that yellow brick road a long time ago and this album was a long time coming! They’d been courting the contemporary genre for a while, and this album was the marriage ceremony. I think that over time though, many people eventually came around to appreciate this album and all the wonderful things it had to offer.

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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 (


  1. NBer

    It’s funny James. My daughter did not like The Rambos when I played them when she was a teenager. She just turned 29 and told me recently she is now into their music. She said she is blown away by their talent and sound.

    • James Hales

      For some people, they just have to grow into their music. Like I did with this particular album.


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