For their second album released in 1975, “These Three Are One” picks up where their 1974 album, “Yours, Until He Comes”, left off and takes things up a notch or two. As I stated in my review of “There Has To Be A Song”, though these albums were released within the same year, they are as different as night and day. This latest album has a totally different feel than any previous album they’ve recorded, and it takes diversity to a whole new level. Once again, produced by Phil Johnson and with string and horns arranged and conducted by Ronn Huff, the album is a bit of an oddity to me with its unique musical styles and song selection. Also, despite the title of the album being “These Three Are One”, on many songs I hear a fourth vocal; and that extra vocal is their bass guitar player, Wendell Jimerson. At times it sounds as if he is doubling Dottie or Buck, and at times it sounds like he is providing a bass/baritone vocal, and it does give the Rambos a fuller and unique sound, not heard on previous records.
Featuring 4 songs written by Dottie, 1 written by Reba and one with Dottie and Reba sharing co-writing responsibilities, the album features varying styles and shows considerable forward progression with their sound and style. Also, the album has a totally different texture and sound quality than any of their previous albums. I think some of that may be attributed to the album being recorded and mixed at a different studio than their previous ones. This album was recorded at C.B.S Studio A in Nashville, whereas their last several albums were recorded at either Jack Clements Recording Studio or the famous RCA Recording Studio. The tracks and vocals on this recording are very crisp and clean sounding and has more of a definitive commercial sound than any of their previous recordings.
The album kicks off with the Southern Gospel sounding, “Waiting for the Son to Come on Down”, which is probably the most “traditional” song on the album. The song is a highly enjoyable tune and a great opener for this album. Featuring a nice acoustic guitar track with some saxophone accents, I definitely hear Wendell on a couple of step out lines, and it’s one of my favorites from the album.
One of my absolute favorite Buck features is the reflective, “What Will It Be Beyond the River for Me”. I love the mandolin on the song, as it has a unique texture in the mix, and I love how the final strum from the mandolin rings out at the very end of the song. The Singing Cookes did a really good job on the song on their 1979 album, “He’s Always There”, and it’s a song I’d love to hear someone bring back today.
One of the most unusual songs in the entire Rambo repertoire is found in the up-tempo, “Send in the Clouds”, which features Dottie. The song is a collaborative effort between Dottie and Reba and it’s a quirky song filled with strings and brass and it’s actually one of my favorite tunes from this album. I can easily see someone like Ernie Haase & Signature Sound pulling this song off without a hitch! The brass arrangement on the song really makes it stand out and was something totally different for the Rambos, both musically and vocally. The dramatic build up at the end completes the song perfectly.
Slowing the tempo back down, the Rambos’ bass player, Wendell Jimerson steps up to sing, “Just to Walk with Him”, which was written by Stephen Lee Richardson and published through the Rambos publishing company. It’s more of a solo effort by Wendell, with backing provided by a small choral group, and he does a good job on the song. As far as I know, this is the only recorded feature by Wendell on a Rambo album.
Closing out this side is one of Dottie’s lyrical masterpieces, “How Graciously Grace Has Covered My Sins”, which features Dottie. Beautifully orchestrated, only Dottie could write such a precious lyric as this…”oh blood like a fountain has covered my soul, sweet peace like a river beyond my control, I stand in amazement and can’t comprehend, how graciously grace has covered my sins”. Joel Lindsey, who is one of my all-time favorite songwriters, credits this particular song as his inspiration for songwriting and upon hearing the song for the first time, consciously said to himself, “I want to do that”. So, credit goes to Dottie for inspiring a young songwriter like Lindsey (who is one of many), who has gone on to write innumerable hit songs across multiple musical genres; just like Dottie did!
The second side starts with the disco infused, “Just When I Need Him”. Starting out slow, the tempo picks up midway through the song and it becomes a lighthearted tune with a heavy disco feel, that eventually made its way on the charts, peaking at #5 in September 1976. Written by Reba, this is another tune I definitely hear Wendell on. One of my favorite groups, Sisters, did a fantastic remake of the song on their “Classic Collection” recording, which featured just piano accompaniment on the song, which was a brave move and it worked perfectly!
Slowing the tempo down, Buck steps up next to sing the ballad, “The Sandals”, which featured a striking recitation telling the fictional story of a soldier who gambled and won the sandals of Jesus. It’s a different type of song for the Rambos and a very different type of song from Dottie’s pen. Buck does a good job with the recitation, but I personally would have loved to have heard Dottie’s interpretation of the recitation.
Sounding like a circus come to town, “Golden Street Parade” is another quirky tune penned by Margaret Mabry and published through the Rambos publishing company. I grew up hearing the Inspirations popular version of the song, so imagine how my ears popped up when I finally heard the Rambos unique rendition! It’s a fun song and it fits in perfectly on this album.
For the final two songs, the tempo slows back down for the worshipful “King of Kings”, written by Robert Little, and it is one of my favorites from this album. The song leads perfectly into the anthem, “The Blood of the Son (Makes Us One)”, which was written by Jon Richard Cring. I love how they end the song by holding out the “n” in the word “one” at the end…a very nice touch to the song, and a perfect ending for the recording.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this was a very different album for the Rambos, and one of the most unique albums released at the time in the Southern Gospel music genre. Groups like the Rambos, along with the Downings, Imperials and even the Speers, were pushing the envelope during this time as they were incorporating more and more contemporary sounds into their music. As the Rambos were casting a wider net, they were gaining new fans and the church market was also buying in to what they were doing as well. In doing this, they were probably disappointing some of their older fans who enjoyed their more country style, but it’s always a balancing act when you’re trying to expand your horizons, while trying to maintain your current fan base at the same time. I’ll admit, this isn’t my most favorite album by the Rambos, but there are several songs on here that I thoroughly enjoy. This album is like a buffet, filled with an assortment of different styles and sounds that is sure to offer something that will satisfy the appetite of anyone who listens.
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