Tuesday, May 24, 2011


     The 2007 cd AN EVENING WITH THE TORCHMEN was also recorded as a live concert dvd at the Crossroads Centre in Burlington.  On this recording the Torchmen are Sandy MacGregor, Dave Randall, Mike Moran, and Jon Hisey.
     The album opens with a joyful sounding song about Christ's mission on earth, 'He Took it Upon Himself': "He took it upon Himself to save this old sinful world/He took it upon Himself to open the gates of pearl/He knew that my sin would be too heavy a load for me/So to save my soul from hell/He took it upon Himself."  'I've Made it Home' is upbeat, features a great bass vocal, and is about the joys of heaven: "And when I've finally found my mansion/How my happy heart will sing/Glory glory hallelujah/I've made it home."  'Movin' Up, Movin' Out will appeal to fans of Gold City and the Nations.  It anticipates entering one's heavenly reward: "When I'm readin' in the papers/What I'm readin' in the Word/Well I know it won't be long till that trumpet sound is heard."
     The next two songs were written by group member Dave Randall who grew up in Michigan and now resides in Ontario.  'I'm Gonna Sing in the Choir' has a country feel to it and looks toward heaven: "When Gabriel blows his trumpet/We will gather in the sky/And there we'll stand before the Saviour/In that sweet by and by."  'Who Touched Me' is a ballad about Jesus' miraculous power.  It tells the New Testament story of the woman with the issue of blood pushing through the crowds to touch Jesus and be healed.  'There's a Testimony' features Jon Hisey's bass vocal.  He came to the group when he was just 17.  'Going Home' was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither and is a song of comfort for when times are tough, and for the elderly: "Going home, I'm going home/There's nothing to hold me here/I've caught a glimpse of that heavenly land/Praise God I am going home."  'I'm Gonna keep on Tellin' is happy sounding and speaks of our mandate as Christians: "We must be ready to bear witness for our Lord/The end is soon approaching/My time is almost gone/But I have made a promise as I go pressing on."  'All Aboard (Glorybound)' has a similar message to 'People get Ready' and includes use of harmonica: "I hope you're wearing your travellin' shoes/Get to that station/You got no time to lose/Leave all of your worries and your cares behind."  'Payday is Coming' has a Southern Gospel feel to it and has a message of encouragement for the weary: "He who holds the keys to heaven/May return at night or noon/Keep on workin' for the Master/Payday's comin' soon."
     'Pray Daniel Pray' has the crowd clapping along and tells the story of how God delivered Daniel from the lion's den.  It features nice piano work and contains the following advice for believers today: "If you want to see the devil run/Listen to me/You gotta spend that time down on your knees/You gotta pray like you believe/Like Daniel prayed."  'A Place Called Grace' is a ballad about Christ's work at Calvary: "In a selfless act of love He changed eternity/And redemption's story wrote it's final lines."  'Here There or in the Air' is a delicious Cathedrals like romp about how believers will meet each other in heaven: "There's no room for sad goodbyes/So dry your tears and lift up your eyes/He's coming in the clouds and it could be anyday/I'll meet you in the mornin' on that milky white way."  The album concludes with a modern anthem speaking of harmony, 'I Love You Canada', which is a tribute to our country: "I see our future in our children/So proud, strong, and free/One family hand in hand from sea to shining sea."
     AN EVENING WITH THE TORCHMEN is an exciting live album that captures the quartet's energy and enthusiasm.  It is clear the audience truly enjoyed this performance.  I'm rating it a 90%.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


     The Proverbs GIVE IT AWAY CONCERT DVD (2009) is their first full length concert dvd.  The taping, produced by Enhance Media, was part of a concert at Kingston Gospel Temple, which also featured the Revelations and Crimson River.  The dvd opens with a greeting from the Oak Ridge Boys congratulating the Proverbs on 40 years of ministry in music!
     Twelve of the thirteen songs from the Proverbs GIVE IT AWAY cd (2008) are performed with 'The Shepherd's Call' being excluded.  Two songs from their RELEASE cd are also performed.  'Well Water' tells the story of the Samaritan woman meeting Jesus at the well and Him offering her water "flowing from a river that will never run dry."  It has a country feel to it.  'Holdin' His Own' reminds us that Jesus is there for us when we are at our rope's end and have lost our sense of direction.  The three group members (Dave Daw, Kathy Daw, and Karyl Tymciw) make good use of the stage and different camera angles are used on the dvd, including close-ups.  The sound is top notch. 
     The talking between songs flows naturally and the group seems at ease.  At one point, Dave jokes about being the best looking of the group.  At another, Kathy jokes that it's too bad they didn't get around to making a video when they looked younger in days gone by.  During 'Everybody wants to go to Heaven'  Dave hams it up playing the 'air fiddle' along with the track that is playing.  Before singing 'It is Well with my Soul' acappella style, Dave shares that his dad was a pastor who sang in a quartet.  Dave and his family would sing in the car on the way to services, practicing harmonies.  On 'Ghost in this House' Dave comes down off the stage for a more direct involvement with the audience.
     Before singing 'Even in the Valley God is Good' Karyl shares how she loves the mountain times, when the Spirit is vibrant in our lives, but it is the valley times that help us grow.  'Give it Away' is about how we as Christians should show God's love.  During this song the group gives two free cd's away for audience participation.  A lady who dances enthusiastically and another who shares several hugs each win.  Dave shares that the reason the group has travelled for 42 plus years is to offer folks the gift of salvation.  There is eternal life if we put our faith in Christ.  Many are unaware of this.  Kathy shares that her theme that particular year was to be distracted by God.  Listen to God and you'll go the right way.  The group's 2011 cd would be called 'dis-tract-ed.'
     GIVE IT AWAY CONCERT DVD showcases a group that is down to earth and excited about their faith.  They are professional as well.  I'm rating this dvd a 75%.  If the group were to record another dvd in the future, it would be neat to see the use of some live musicians, and the inclusion of some of their older hits.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


     That the TORCHMEN QUARTET have a rich history is attested to by the following statement from the liner notes of their album ENJOY THE JOURNEY (2009): "Since 1969 more than 40 singers and musicians have held up their torch through the group proclaiming that the Light of the World is our Saviour, Jesus Christ."  Fans of Southern Gospel and country and western music will appreciate the instrumentation on this album, which includes steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and harmonica. 
     Two upbeat numbers start off this record.  'Take me to that Mountain' was written by group member David Randall and tells of a desire to have a spiritual plateau experience: "Take me to that mountain/High up to a place/Where I can feel the sun shining down upon my face/Oh high above the dark clouds that's where I wanna roam/Just take me to that mountain/When I'm there I'm almost home."  'I've enjoyed the Journey' shares the secret of a happy life: "I've enjoyed the journey walin' with my Lord/When the enemy surrounds me/He is my shield and sword/There's no need to worry, no need to fret/He will not leave me and He's never failed me yet/I've enjoyed the journey/Walkin' with my Lord." 'When Heaven's Joy is Mine' is a ballad that looks ahead to the afterlife: "What a great homecoming/What a morning/As I leave this world behind/There forever with loved ones rejoicing/When heaven's joy is mine."  'Gonna get my feet Wet', again written by David Randall, tells the story of Peter stepping out of the boat to meet Jesus, and reminds us we need to be ready when God calls us to do something.
     'Cast all your care on Jesus' is a slow ballad that is a good reminder for those going through trials: "Cast all your care on Jesus/He gave His life for you/Cast all your care on Jesus/No matter the test/He'll see you through." 'Roll Away Jordan' is a fun sounding song of defiance, with a bass vocal lead: "If you're waitin' for my troubles to get me down/Well friend there ain't no use you hanging around/'Cause I don't care what comes my way/It can't be big enough for what you hear me say/Roll away trouble river/Roll away."  'When I rested in the Lord' describes how life can be without the Lord: "Tryin' to cope with the pressures of life/Left me with a weary days and sleepless nights/Searched for the answer not knowin' the question/I was runnin' fast but in the wrong direction."  'Mine Eyes have seen Thy salvation' is the first of three consecutive songs that Rodney Griffin of GREATER VISION has songwriter credits on.  It reflects on Simeon's experience when he encountered Christ at the temple: "He said 'Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation/For I have seen the Lord/I've touched the hope of the ages/Jesus the Living One.'" 
     'I like it All' talks of the joy of Christian fellowship: "I like the way that it feels when the Spirit is real/And the people are in one accord/I like the love that I sense when we're gathered together and take turns to brag on the Lord/There's no place for me that I'd rather be/'Cause at the church house I have a ball."  'That's why there's Forgiveness' contains the following words of truth sung in a spirit of thanksgiving: "God knew when He saved me/I could not live a sinless life/And no matter how hard I tried I still would fail/But He made provision/With His Son's sacrifice/And now my sins are overshadowed/By three rusty nails."  'First One to Get there and the Last One to Leave', one of my favourites, tells the conversion story of a drunkard who trades in drink for church activity involvement.  The last song, 'Sing Shout Shine' is a happy one with a bass lead: "So He guides me on my way/Keepin' me safe from day to day/And I know I'll travel to a better place." 
     ENJOY THE JOURNEY is the type of album that will grow on you.  I'm giving it a 78%.  For more info visit http://www.torchqt.com/.  Thanks to Mike and the rest of the Torchmen.

Friday, May 13, 2011


     In the liner notes for CLASSIC TORCHMEN SONGS FEATURING JOSH FRIEND (2010) the group writes: "We hope you enjoy these 'Classic Gospel Songs' recorded in the classic way (you are hearing it just the way we sang it) at Grant Ave Studios in Hamilton.  We recorded there in 1976 and we tried to re-create that sound in 'Classic Torchmen Songs.'"  The Torchmen are, on this project, Sandy MacGregor (tenor), David Randall (lead), Mike Moran (baritone), and Josh Friend (bass).
     The album begins with 'There's a Testimony', which is a song with a bouncy chorus about someone eager to share their faith experience: "There's a testimony in the house today/There's somebody ready to stand and give Him praise/A voice that is willing to be a witness of His grace'There's a testimony in the house today."  'Zion's Hill' features nice piano playing and is about a believer going to their heavenly reward: "There waits for me a glad tomorrow/Where gates of pearl swing open wide/And when I've cast this veil of sorrow/I'll dwell upon the other side."  'Led out of Bondage' is a fast, drum driven track about how God, using Moses, freed the Israelites from the Egyptians.  It will appeal to fans of Nations' hits such as "Get thee Behind me Satan" and "Noah found Grace".  'I'll live in Glory' is celebratory and has as its' focus the rapture: "This might be the very day when the Lord will take us away/When the shouts from Heaven and the trumpet sound/All the dead in Christ will rise and we'll meet 'em in the skies/Oh what joy is now a'waiting/Heaven on high."  'No One but Jesus Knows' is a ballad with a doo-wop feel to it and speaks of an intimate relationship with Jesus as Healer: "All discouraged, so sad and blue/I go to Jesus/He'll see me through/How He thrills my broken spirit/No one but Jesus knows."
     'Payday' has a Southern Gospel feel to it and reminds us how we should live our lives as we await the Lord's return: "Payday is comin'/Comin' in the by and by/Do not weary in well doing/Your redemption draweth nigh/He who holds the keys to heaven/May return at night or noon/Keep on workin' for the Master/Payday's comin' soon." 'Under Control' is a ballad of comfort: "The Bible speaks of famines and trials/In the last day how they'll sweep through our land/But we have His assurance that through all of these trials/We'll be lead by His mighty hand."  'Getting ready to Leave this World' was penned by Luther G. Pressley in 1937.  It looks forward to the next life with anticipation, while stressing the importance of living right in the here and now: "I'm gettin' ready to leave this world/I'm getting ready for the gates of pearl/Keeping my record right/Watching both day and night/I'm getting ready to leave this world."
     'I Can Tell you the Time' is smooth flowing, features nice harmonica, and talks of the mystery of salvation: "I can tell you now the time/I can take you to the place/Where the Lord saved me/By His wonderful grace/But I can not tell you how for I know not the how/And I can not tell you why/And I know not the why/But He'll tell me all about it/He will tell me all about it/In the by and by."  The hymn 'I'd rather have Jesus', written by Luther G. Pressley in 1935 is given a traditional treatment and speaks of having a stronger desire for Jesus than for power, prestige, or possessions.
     CLASSIC TORCHMEN SONGS FEATURING JOSH FRIEND does a good job featuring the talented bass singer, while allowing the other three parts to flourish as well.  This is a good album to help you set your sights on heaven.  My only beef is that it's a bit on the short side, clocking in at 29 minutes and 4 seconds.  I'm giving it an 80%.  For more info visit:  http://www.torchqt.com/. Thanks to Mike and the rest of the Torchmen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


     The Proverbs' 20th album, is, pleasantly a Christmas offering.  CHRISTMAS-OUR FAVOURITE TIME OF YEAR (2010) begins with 'Light of the World', an adult contemporary song of worship and mission good for the whole year round and written by Phil Johnson and Mark Lowry: "Oh Light, Oh Light of the world we worship You/Oh Light, Oh Light of the world we honour You/As we journey through this cold dark world we will carry You/To light up the world with the Light of the world."  Irving Berlin's 'White Christmas' is given a slow jazz treatment with nice guitar work and puts one in mind of sitting in a coffee shop by a fireplace sipping a hot chocolate.  'Go Tell' really finds the Proverbs in their element.  It is an upbeat country tune that will get you clapping, as did some of their older hits such as 'In my Robe of White' and 'It'll be Alright'.  Message wise, it is in keeping with the Great Commission given by Jesus: "Once you've seen that shinin' star/You can't keep it to yourself/Go tell it near and far/He is Emmanuel/You've gotta go tell." 'If Everyday could be Christmas' is easy listening, features nice keyboard sounds, and is sentimental: "If everyday could be Christmas/What a wonderful world it would be/We could carry this feeling within us/All through the year/If everyday could be Christmas."  Not forgetting the kids, the group includes a nice arrangement of 'Away in a Manger' with good harmonies.
     'Reason for the Season' was on LONESTAR'S 2000 album THIS CHRISTMAS TIME, and reflects on the true meaning of Christmas: "He is the reason for the season/He is the Light that shines on our lives/The baby Jesus born in God's grace so we all might rejoice on this day."  The song begins with Dave Daw on lead vocals and I would have liked him to carry the whole vocal for a bit of variety.  'The Christmas Song' seems aimed at a more senior audience and would fit nicely on Tillsonburg's EASY 101 FM.
     'The First Noel' is again easy listening and I recommend it to fans of later era Point of Grace harmonies.  'Silent Night' is given the acappella treatment and features Dave's bass.  It is clear that the Proverbs could do an entire acappella album that would be quite enjoyable!  The album concludes with Steve Chapman's 'The Mystery of the Season' which speaks of a desire, yes a longing, to be with family at Christmas: "It sends me down the highway to feed a hunger in my soul/I drove all day to get here as if I had control/And the cars out in the driveway tell me I am not alone/It's the mystery of the season/One by one comin' home."
     On CHRISTMAS-OUR FAVOURITE TIME OF YEAR, the Proverbs don't murder the classic carols as some have, and that is something to be thankful for.  The album could have been improved by including more faster, joyful sounding tunes given the occasion.  I'm giving this one a 78%.  It would be a nice addition to your Christmas music collection. For more info or to purchase, please visit http://www.theproverbs.com/.  Thanks to Dave, Kathy, and Karyl.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


     The Proverbs just recently shared the stage with gospel music legends Russ Taff and Janet Paschal in Belleville and Ottawa, which speaks to the calibre of their artistry.  dis-tract-ed is the 21st complete album recorded by the Proverbs since they began in 1967.  It came out this year.  It begins with the laid back 'Hazy Days' which is a prayer to God to rescue them from a spiritual fog: "Guide my steps with Your hand/Keep me firm in Your plans/Lord rescue me from these hazy days."  Next up is the first of three songs written by group member Karyl Tymciw assisted by Jeremy Daw (son of group members Dave and Kathy Daw).  'Distracted by God' is an adult contemporary number that speaks of the many things that draw our attention away from God, including television, sleeping in, and bad moods.  The song advises: "Somehow we've gotta come to our senses/Want the world to see I'm distracted by God/Some roads are paved with good intentions/Choose to be distracted by God."  'Runaway Train' has a funky sound to it and using the story of Paul and Silas in jail, praises the merits of using praise to rise above one's circumstances.  'When I Hear the Thunder' sounds like early Amy Grant or Twila Paris and is born out of a deep faith in God through adversity: "When I hear the thunder and I think I'm goin' under/I remember You're the lifter of my head/You've had a thousand chances to change my circumstances/Thank You Lord for changing me instead."  'Get Away Jordan' is a classic toe-tapping spiritual on which Dave Daw gets his bass vocal on.  'There is a God' is an inspirational ballad that gives evidence for our Father God: "There's a beauty to the dawn/A rhythm to the rain/A silence in the soul that I just can't explain...There's a debt that has been paid/A grace that I've been shown/A hope that I've been given/That I have never known."
     'I Can't Help Myself' is about our fundamental need for God and His goodness. 'God is There' is another inspirational ballad.  It reminds us that God is everywhere.  He's with those in the hospital, the young pregnant mother, and the parent awaiting the return of their prodigal child: "God is there in the middle of Your night/Every single moment, every single life/He's reaching for you right where you are/The God of the impossible is never very far."  The Imperials took the celebratory 'I'm Forgiven' to Number One for thirteen weeks in 1980.  Of 'Your Song', a mid tempo Silverwind type tune, Karyl writes: "Praising God with our voices is not only Biblical, but empowering and therapeutic...The simple act of singing about God's goodness invigorates and rejuvenates the soul."
     'Over the Mountain' is the first of two Sheri Easter written songs and reminds us we are on a journey working towards a goal: "I may not be over the mountain/But I can see the other side/Just a glimpse makes me wanna lift up my hands and throw back my head and smile/This journey has left me weary/But I know God's been faithful to guide."  'That's God for You' falls into the easy listening category and was inspired by Rob O'Prey, a man who loved singing gospel music and died of a brain tumor.  Th song talks of the value of hindsight: "Though you may have felt you were all alone/When you look back He was there/He went before you/That's God for you."  The album ends with "I Don't want to Cry', a mid tempo song with this word of encouragement: "Life can getcha down so low/Leave you wanderin' all alone/But if you have the will to stand/He'll reach out to hold your hand."
     The strengths of dis-tract-ed are the smooth lead vocals of Kathy Daw, and the solid instrumentation including saxophones, keys, guitars, and horns.  If I had one complaint, it would be that there aren't enough fast songs in the mix here.  All in all, I'm rating this one an 80%.  For more info, or to purchase, visit http://www.theproverbs.com/.  Thanks to Dave, Kathy, and Karyl.