Saturday, February 01, 2020
Sunday morning gospel: The Lifeboat Quartet--Hymns We Love (1979)
This LP was thrift-gifted to the blog by Diane (thanks!), and one look at the cover photo had me wondering if this would be SMG-quality material. Frankly, the family on the cover (the Waters Family) looked too... preppy, or something. In its dress, if not manner. But the track list includes Shoutin' on the Hills and When I Wake up to Sleep No More, so I knew I owed the LP a test listen. So I gave it one. And out of my headphones poured pure bluegrass gospel. Never judge a gospel LP by its cover. I should know that after 30 years of collecting this music, but I keep forgetting. This LP makes the grade, and then some.
Yes, the Waters Family, aka The Lifeboat Quartet. And that is one cool quartet title. Starting with the top row, from left to right, we have the males: Brent A. Waters, Larry Waters, Logan (18 yo), and Lynn (15 yo). Bottom row, left to right, we have Imogene Waters (the wife), Melissa (12 yo), and Sharolyn (19 yo). Imogene wrote two of the songs: Have We Any Time for Our Children (sung by Melissa) and Only the Redeemed (sung by Larry).
Only one track receives a composer credit, either on the labels or the jacket, but this issue has one thing that small-label gospel LPs nearly always lack: a copyright year. 1979. Right there on the labels. It's astonishing--an actual year on the labels. So I can't complain about the lack of song attributions. Besides, everyone associates One Day at a Time (not the TV show) with Kris Kristofferson, right? And everyone knows that I Saw the Light was penned by Mr. Lonesome--the great Hank Williams, no? And if you follow my Sunday posts, you know that Shoutin' on the Hills was penned by Eugene Monroe Bartlett in 1925, under the title, There'll Be Shouting. So, everyone just chill. Things are cool. (Sorry--I've a little over-caffeinated. What's that? I should try decaffeinated? Doesn't that remove the whole point of coffee?)
This all sounds like the more commercial (i.e., polished) bluegrass gospel put out by major labels, save for the less produced (read: more natural) audio, and a more down-home feel throughout. Allowing the kids to sing might have been something frowned upon by a bigger company, but this is Jewel Records of Cincinnati OH, so we get the group as is. The instrumental backings are by the group, so this is no amateur-gospel-family-group-sitting-in-with-studio-musicians stuff. (That's a common small-label gospel genre.) All the tracks are fine. The a cappella Day Is Breaking in My Soul qualifies as superb--I'd love an entire LP of just this family, singing minus instruments. The back jacket mentions four more titles by the group, but Discogs only lists one (Visions of Calvary). I seem to be rescuing these folks from cyber-obscurity, and if so, I feel very honored. To the terrific bluegrass gospel....
DOWNLOAD: Hymns We Love--The Lifeboat Quartet (1979)
These Men of God
The Sun's Coming up in the Morning
I Saw the Light (Hank Williams)
Day is Breaking in My Soul
One Day at a Time (Wilkin-Kristofferson)
Have We Any Time for Out Children (I. Waters)
I Will Shelter My Sheep
Shoutin' on the Hills (Bartlett)
When I Wake up to Sleep No More (Marion Easterling)
The Lord Will Provide
Hymns We Love--The Lifeboat Quartet (Jewel Records JRC-916; 1979)