The Rambos – “Queen of Paradise” (1978)

by | Mar 22, 2023 | LP Review, Reviews

When 1978 rolled around, this latest album by the Rambos, uniquely titled, “Queen of Paradise”, introduced us to a new look and sound for the group. Around the time this album came out, Reba released her 6th solo album, “The Lady is a Child” (which was kind of a sequel to her 1976 album, “Lady”) and Reba had struck out on her own, enjoying immense success as a solo artist; enter Patti Carpenter. Patti remained with the Rambos off and on throughout the rest of the 70’s and early 80’s, and I felt she fit in well with the group. Unlike many groups who experience changes with a pivotal singer in the group, the Rambo’s sound didn’t change a whole lot with Patti, but she still was her own vocalist and was a bit of a different singer than Reba was. If comparing the two, Patti wasn’t as versatile of a singer as Reba was and admittedly, there was a slightly different vocal dynamic when comparing the group’s sound with Reba, but the Rambos still maintained a tight blend with Patti, and I thought they sounded great with her.

“Queen of Paradise” was produced by Phil Johnson and Joe Huffman, and vocal arrangements once again were handled by band members, David Huntsinger and Wendell Jimerson. One thing I noticed more on this album is how much Wendell is singing on some of the group songs. Over the last couple of albums, Wendell is providing more and more vocal support with each record. On a few songs, Buck is noticeably absent in the mix (or he is mixed way in the background) and Wendell is clearly singing the third part. You can tell a difference when Buck is singing compared to Wendell, as the harmony has a smoother texture with Wendell. It’s still the Rambos, but the harmonies are a little tighter and they take on less of a country sound. With this album, there continues to be some out of the box thinking with various styles and sounds, as well as some uniquely written lyrics, as Dottie’s songwriting style was changing. I absolutely love the cover shot for the album, and given the title, it was the perfect setting! Of course, mention must be made of Dottie big hair. Though it was a short-lived “do” (I can only imagine how long it took to do her hair each day and how much hairspray was used!), it was unique and classic Dottie.

The recording starts off with the up-tempo rockabilly feel of the title song, “Queen of Paradise”. Starting off singing the first verse acapella, the band kicks in full speed ahead by the last line, and you know you are in store for an exciting tune! Using water imagery, the song compares the church to a ship headed for Gloryland…”she’s the Queen of Paradise, she’s sailing by and by, waiting for the Captain’s last command, I’ll be standing on the deck, engines full speed ahead…all aboard for Gloryland!” Featuring that happy Rambo country gospel style, the song was quite popular for the group, spending about 10 months in the Top 20, peaking at #8 in May 1979. Featuring some nice guitar work, Buck takes the lead for the first verse and chorus and Dottie takes the lead for the second verse and carries us home with her fun and infectious delivery.

Slowing the tempo down, the acoustical feel of the prayerful, “Is There Anything I Can Do for You?” is next. Dottie co-wrote the song with David Huntsinger, and it features all three members of the group on their respective verses. Earlier in the year, Dottie released the children’s musical, “Down By the Creekbank” (David Huntsinger played a big part in the writing of that musical as well), and this song was the closing song for the musical. I grew up hearing the “Down By the Creekbank” version, as I was part of the musical our church put on. Even as a kid, I loved the simplicity of the lyric, “I’m willing to be used dear Lord, what ‘ere the price may be, so if there’s anything I can do for You, just make it known to me”.

The tempo picks up a bit for the bouncy, acoustically driven, “My Old Friend”, which features an excellent performance by Buck. Featuring a mainstream country feel with an acoustic guitar, steel guitar and harmonica driven track, it’s a great example of how the Rambos continued updating their sound, while also trying to keep their old sound intact. Patti does a marvelous job with some call-back lines in the background, and it’s just an easy-going type of song.

Speaking of Patti, she is featured next on the lilting feel of the reflective, “Sing me a Song of Tomorrow”, which features some really nice piano and guitar accents. It’s a very contemporary sounding tune about Heaven and features some excellent harmony as well and the song feels right at home on this album. Also, this is one of the songs that sounds like Wendell is singing on, instead of Buck.

Side one closes out as Dottie sings the playful, “If I Could Do it All Over Again”. The song features a Rambo calling card with the melody switching between Buck, Patti and Dottie on the chorus and also features some unique sounds as well as some cool brass embellishments. It’s is an enjoyable tune and a wonderful testimony song, “I don’t regret a single mile, been a lot of tears, but an awful lot of smiles, it’s really amazing how a little faith in God can give you so much peace of mind, I’ve never seen the world so bright, never seen so many wrong things made right, yeah if I could do it all over again, I’d do it all over again!”

The dramatic feel of “I Will Glory in the Cross” starts off the second side. Inspired during a tour in Holland, where Dottie was told not to sing songs about the cross, she nailed it when she penned these powerful words that were perfectly married to a massively orchestrated music track…”I boast not of works, nor tell of good deeds, for naught have I done to merit His grace, all glory and praise shall rest upon Him, so willing to die in my place…I will glory in the cross…lest His suffering all be in vain, I will weep no more for the cross that He bore, I will glory in the cross!” Though the song wasn’t a major chart song for the group, it became a powerful anthem for the church and became one of Dottie’s most popular songs. I love everything about the song…the lyric, the orchestrations (when those tympani’s strike at the end of the second verse, it’s rapturous!), and Dottie’s powerful delivery; a perfect culmination of lyric, music, vocals and arrangement…one of those songs that literally leaves you breathless for a second when it’s all over. Larnelle Harris did a tremendous job with his rendition on his 1986 solo album, “From a Servant’s Heart”. The Hoppers also did a great job rendering their version of the song on a Dottie Rambo tribute recording Crossroads Music released in 1997.

By contrast, “I Love the Name”, which features Patti and Dottie (and Wendell on harmony), features a very delicate performance and is an absolutely beautiful song with its simple musical accompaniment. The song is almost like a continuation of thought from Dottie’s classic song, “I Call Him Lord”. This song would be a wonderful treasure for someone to unearth and record today, as it’s not one of Dottie’s best-known songs.

I have loved the snappy piano intro for “Stand By the River” since the first time I ever heard it. While not a hit song at the time, the song did become an instant hit when Dottie recorded and released the song as a duet with Dolly Parton back in 2003. It’s such a fun and infectious tune and it’s one of my all-time favorite Rambo songs. I also have to mention that I love Dottie’s phrasing of “riv-ah” on the song; she was such a stylist! The Greenes also did a fantastic performance of the song on their 2007 recording, “Far Down the Road”, and it’s one of my favorite renditions of the song.

Patti is featured next on the haunting and mesmerizing tune “Gettin’ to Know You Better”, which Dottie co-wrote with the Rambos’ guitarist, Gary Chapman. Featuring a really nice guitar track, Patti does a phenomenal job delivering this lyric over a music track filled with unique dynamics that goes from a very soft ballad to almost like a power ballad, and then back to soft. It’s a very moving and memorable song featuring a wonderful delivery by Patti, really showcasing her vocal prowess.

Closing out the recording, Buck steps up to sing the country tinged, “Somebody Prayed For Me”. Featuring twin fiddles, it’s one of those songs that changes beat and mood at different points in the song as it goes from straight country to a bit of a country rock feel.

This was a very different album than “Naturally” was. The Rambos were still spreading their creative wings and trying new and different things, and as I noted earlier, Dottie’s songwriting was evolving as well. During the mid-70s, her songwriting started to change a bit, and by the time “Queen of Paradise” came around, it had developed into a deeper writing style. Dottie’s songs were taking on a more modern sound as she was tackling more contemporary topics. The Rambo’s music was being utilized more and more in churches and contemporary circles, so naturally they would continue shifting their focus in that direction.

Also worth mentioning, sometime after the release of this record, the Benson Company released a unique album titled, “A Dottie Rambo Choral Concert of Love”, which featured the original music tracks for some of Dottie’s songs that were more conducive to church music, and included Dottie, along with a choir singing such songs as “I Will Glory in the Cross”, “Holy Spirit, Thou Art Welcome”, “Stand Still and See His Glory” and “If That Isn’t Love”. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award and it’s a unique album worth hunting down and adding to your collection if you don’t have it.

As we’ll see with their next record, the Rambos would produce a full-on contemporary album that rivaled anything they, or anyone else in the SG genre had done previously. So, stay tuned as we cross that bridge next week!

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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 (


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