CD Review: Legacy Five- Give The World A Smile
In March of this year Tim Parton posted a blog post on the Legacy Five blog that they (L5) would be in the studio starting on a new project of favorites, and they wanted fan input on which “favorites” they wanted L5 to record. Around 100 different songs were requested… They settled on three of the actual requests of fans, and picked seven others to accompany them. All ten of the songs are covers (meaning the songs have been previously recorded) They have everything from an old Statesmen song “Heading Home” to the more modern Cathedrals hit “We Shall See Jesus” This album is also departure of sorts from their last project Just Stand, in the fact that there is very little orchestration on this album. It is mostly only piano, bass and drums. Which in my opinion really brings out the blend of the singers more and this album has some of the best blend I have ever heard out of L5. This project is also the second to have new tenor Gus Gaches in the lineup. So with no further ado below is the list of songs on this project with thoughts after each one.
1. I’d Like To Say It Again- The Cathedrals recorded this song on their High And Lifted Up project. While it was not the strongest song on an album chock full of strong tunes it does fit Legacy Five very well. The arrangement is not much different from the original, with Glenn Dustin stepping up and delivering on a song that George Younce really put life into, but with comparisons aside Glenn really did do a nice job on this great song. 4.5/5
2. Give The World A Smile- The title track of the project is a big highlight moment on this CD. They pitched the key of this song just right for Glenn Dustin to really do well on. They bring out a nice warmth in his voice with this one, and it shows from beginning to end. The blend of the rest of the voices behind Glenn really give this song a nice feel. This song has been covered by many groups since it was written in 1924. However, I have never heard the extra verse that they include with this version. As a result, it makes the song last about a minute longer than most groups versions. That doesn’t leave you thinking “man I am tired of hearing this song sang the same old way.” Another thing they did differently with the vocal arrangements is having Gus take the lead towards the end, making for a nice contrast. Overall, this is a great cover of an old classic. 5/5
3. Boundless Love- This cover is not all that much different (arrangement wise) than the original, other than a new track. Gus adds some flair to this one when he takes the lead at the end. Though he does not go enormously high, he does a very nice job with his part making this song a highlight on the album. I did see them do this live recently, and it is even better in the live setting with the energy of the song itself. 4.5/5
4. We Shall See Jesus- This song has lain dormant since the Cathedrals retired in 1999. And now, a little over ten years later, the first Cathedrals heritage group has stepped up to cover it. They give it some orchestration and a big ballad feel towards the end. The most noticeable difference of course is on the verses without the powerful voice of Glen Payne. L5 gives bass singer Glenn Dustin the lead on the first verse and part of the second with the group joining him to finish it. The pace picks up for the third verse as Scott Fowler takes the lead and really knocks it out of the park. Scott is no Glen Payne, but he really does a splendid job on this verse. The group nails the chorus with power, and Gus Gaches gets a line towards the end that he does a great job with. What was great about his part is that he didn’t try to oversing it, (which is something that tenors more often than not do when given a line like that). Instead of ending on the words “Just As He Is” they ended with the words “We Shall See Jesus” with a slight pause for effect after the word “see”, which I feel was a great move arrangement wise. They don’t, however, end it on the big high C that the original did with Danny Funderburke or Ernie Haase; instead they opted to have Gus stay on the fifth, instead of taking it up sky high and ending on the big C. That was a move that some might not like, for alot of people love the higher endings and it usually evokes a bigger crowd response when tenors end the song sky high. Even though I know Gus could do it, he just chose not to with this one. Crowd response is not nearly as important as getting the message in the song across, and L5 did just that. They approached this song very respectively, and I know that George, Glen and Roger would be proud. I am looking forward to seeing them stage this one for sure. 5/5
5. Search Me O God- This happens to be one of only two songs along with “We Shall See Jesus” that feature any kind of orchestration at all on this album. There are some light strings interwoven throughout, making a nice backdrop for this beautiful song. The first three verses are sang individually by (in the following order) Glenn Dustin, Scott Howard and Scott Fowler. They all turn in nice performances. The fourth verse is then sung together as a group, and it is completely A Capella. This really accentuates the superb blend of L5. Gus takes the lead at the end, and really seals the deal on a great performance of this wonderful song! 5/5
6.Reach Out To Jesus- This song was a hit for Elvis, and was recorded by the Imperials in 1968. (H/T Wes).Legacy Five decided to take a crack at it, and in my opinion pulled it off really well. Scott Howard gets the feature and turns in what I believe is his best effort to date. Like most of the other songs on this CD, the chorus features some very nice harmonies and blend from the group.The arrangement on this song is quite different from the original.Tim Parton really outdid himself on the arranging of this song. Gus Gaches told me it was one of the most challenging arrangements he has ever had to learn, you would never know it by how the guys blended so well and nailed their individual parts. 5/5
7. Headin’ Home- This song was originally recorded by the famous Statesmen Quartet and was quite the controversial song for them in 1947. Legacy Five unearthed this old tune and breathed new life into it like only they can. This song features some very intricate harmonies and vocal arrangements. There is a nice little twist at the end in which they turn the song around and they let Gus take the lead, and he really does blend and sound good with L5, probably more than any other tenor that they have had. This is without a doubt a favorite of mine from this album; I am looking forward to seeing this one live. 5/5
8. I Always Have A Song To Sing- This song was covered by the Mark Trammel Trio on their Always Have A Song To Sing project. It seems to fit well after the slightly slower opening song with its tighter and faster pace. The song itself has an older feel to it, even though it was written recently. Scott Fowler steps out front on this one and delivers his usual strong lead, and there are some nice harmonies on the chorus. 4/5
9. Living On The Sunnyside- This song was originally covered by the Speer Family. I have not heard the original like I have on all the other songs of this album, so I don’t have anything to compare it with. With that said, Legacy Five once again has another song that features some very nice and interesting vocal arrangements. Glenn Dustin starts the song out with a slow and sort of bluesy feel. The song then picks up the pace, and Gus Gaches takes over the lead, making for a nice contrast. They really end it strong as a group. 5/5
10. I’ve Read The Back Of The Book- This cover of the Roger Bennett written hit is pretty straightforward, and features Scott Fowler turning in a solid performance on the verses. It is a new track that I really enjoy even more than the original, but the vocal arrangement is somewhat, but not fully similar to, the original. The most noticeable difference, besides Scott on the verses, is the fact that they don’t take it up a notch and hand it off to the tenor at the end. Fowler keeps the lead throughout while showing some nice range. They do end it on a nice high note (Gus ended it on either a high Bb or a High C) showing that they don’t need that power tenor tag to “make” the song. 5/5
Overall Project Rating: 5 Stars
Final Thoughts: As far as table projects go, this is in my opinion the best one L5 has ever put out, and this may be one of the best table projects put out by a major group in a quite awhile. It is right up there with Triumphant’s Intermission project, and Gold City’s Heaven project from this century. They put time and effort into producing this album, and it shows. Tim Parton produced this album and did the arrangements, and he really outdid himself without a doubt. Legacy Five has come a long way since 1999, and this album is a shining exemplar of what the group is really capable of vocally. All of the guys turn in strong performances; my only real knock with this album is the fact that Gus did not get any complete solos. But I don’t believe he is one that really minds not being in the spotlight; he just blends and blends some more. He also has a great tone to his solo voice and fits into this group seamlessly in more ways than one. I see great things for this group with Gus manning the tenor spot, and I am looking forward to future efforts from this lineup. If a table project is this good, I can’t wait for their next label release with Gus. Though he is on Just Stand, those songs were picked with Frank in mind. So keep your eyes on L5, as I could honestly see a run at the top of the genre for them over the next few years, so long as they keep putting out efforts like Just Stand (their best label release to date IMO) and now this one (their best table project to date). So if you’re at NQC this year, head over to L5′s table and buy this project! You can also order it from their website. I know you will not be disappointed!