STYLE: Southern Gospel RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 126614-19218 LABEL: Riversong FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 2 RRP: £9.99
Reviewed by Dave Brassington
I would subtitle this two CD package 'a reviewer's nightmare'! The reason is that this group has been recording for the best part of 50 years, with many different personnel changes. The real problem with this release is that there are no details of who is actually singing on each track and to be blunt there is a world of difference in the quality of performance between the quartet who made it really big in country circles and some of the other incarnations I have heard. I confess to not being particularly fond of some of the very early recordings of the Oaks when in my opinion they were no more than a run of the mill Southern gospel group, but at least most of the material here sounds of a more recent vintage and it is interesting how some of it veers between country and Southern gospel. CD one opens with a very catchy version of a great song I first heard many years ago by Swedish country gospel group The Samuelsons which they called "When King Jesus Comes Again", simply called here "King Jesus". Many of the tracks on this CD emanate from recordings on the Heart Warming label in 1972 and include some good songs such as "After Calvary", Andrae Crouch's excellent "Through It All" and the classic "O Happy Day", but to be honest they are not outstanding and sound more than a little dated. The second CD is the stronger of the two, with the tracks again emanating mainly from Heart Warming but with no dates given. The group sing a nice version of the Glen Campbell hit "Try A Little Kindness", Dottie Rambo's "Mama's Teaching Angels How To Sing" and a very lively version of the Johnny Cash classic "Daddy Sang Bass", but the standout track for me is "Jesus Christ, What A Man" written by those two purveyors of country rock Bobby Bare and Billy Joe Shaver. No doubt there will be fans of the Oaks wanting this compilation despite the questionable packaging.
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