Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Everyone has their own awards; these are mine. Since 1982 I’ve awarded a favorite quartet album title. Since then I’ve added a non-quartet Southern Category and an Other Category for everything else. This is simply an award of what is my favorite for the year, not the greatest. Also, it’s based on what I acquire during the year, not the year of release.

In the past 10 years five out of the 10 favorite quartet albums have been old lps I’ve picked up at yard sales and Goodwill type stores. Actually a 6th is a CD release of an old album by the Statesmen from the 50s. So, my tastes are more nostalgic than ever before. That’s not so true in the other two categories.

Quartet Album: The Statesmen “Message In The Sky”. This is an RCA Camden album that I discovered in a little store in Leadville, Colorado. I don’t agree with the theology of the title song that God actually purposely sends heartaches our way, but the rest of the album is great. It has the reverse song to “Everybody Will Be Happy” on how everyone will have a terrible time down there. I had heard it before on a different old album of theirs which someone had when I was in college. A few other songs I’ve heard on some of their pre-RCA old compilations. There is more life and fire in this album than in anything else I’ve heard all year.

Southern (non-quartet) Album: Karen Peck and New River “Ephesians One”. The title song would merit this one getting the award. I haven’t heard anything in a long time that has so captivated me. It is one of the most encouraging songs ever written. The other songs are all on a high spiritual level with the concluding track being the rousing “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown”.

Other: Ricky Skaggs “Mosaic”. My friend, Larry Biller, was the one who introduced me to Ricky. I haven’t gotten many of his albums, but this one could stand alone for his entire gospel oeuvre. It is one of the most insightful spiritual albums I’ve ever heard. It instantly struck a chord deep inside me. George Beverly Shea, age 101, does a small segment on it. If you are down and discouraged, this one will lift you up into the heavenly places. It transcends its country/bluegrass roots to become something truly universal.

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