Classic Album Review: “The World Needs To Hear” by The Sound

The subject of today’s classic album review is from a lineup that I was to my shame, unaware of until a few months ago.Whenever I thought of The Sound from Houston, Texas, the name that first came to mind for me & many others is

The Sound L-R, Jess Farmer, Rick Strickland, Sean Riley, Pat Hoffmaster, David Foster
The Sound L-R, Jess Farmer, Rick Strickland, Sean Riley, Pat Hoffmaster, David Foster

Scott Fowler (Cathedrals & Legacy Five). Mike Presnell (best known for his days with Perfect Heart) was the groups bass singer at that time, and later members also included included former L5 tenor, Frank Seamans. But what many, including me, did not know is that long before the days of Fowler & Presnell,  there were 2 other well known & accomplished singers that helped establish the group.

Those two men were Pat Hoffmaster, former tenor for the legendary Blackwood Brothers Quartet on lead, and Rick Strickland on tenor, who was fresh from his tenure with the Singing Americans, and would later sing with the Kingdom Heirs & J.D. Sumner & The Stamps. The rest of the group was rounded out by Sean Riley on baritone, Jess Farmer on bass, and David Foster on piano, who also was their arranger. “The World Needs To Hear” was their first project, and was produced by the master maestro himself, the one & only Lari Goss.

A little history on the group reveals some interesting changes. When recording started on “The World Needs To Hear”, the lineup was Hoffmaster singing tenor, Kent Morrison on lead, with Foster supplying some baritone, and Farmer on bass. This lineup recorded 2 songs, before Riley would take over the baritone, and Strickland joined as the groups tenor, allowing Hoffmaster to sing lead.

577770_382116898547143_627964989_nThe album starts with a great, uptempo quartet number “Blessed Shall You Be”. Hoffmaster carries the lead through the verses and first chorus, then Strickland takes over on the second chorus to the songs end. The group establishes a great, high harmony & tight vocals right off the bat, a preview of things to come throughout the album. The next cut  “I Gave Up”, features Hoffmaster on the lead. Even though this is a totally 80’s song, it has a great jazzy feel, and Hoffmaster just kills it. The most recognizable song that this group recorded is the third song, “Here Comes The Bride”. Hoffmaster sings the first verse, Strickland the second, then each member sings a line of the third verse. The song ends with a powerful high ending, that is nothing short of breath taking.  Both Hoffmaster & Strickland had such incredible ranges, producing the sky high lead & tree top tenor vocals, reminiscent of the Prophets (similar to that of Jay Berry or Roy McNeil & “Big Lew” Garrison”)

Next up is “I Got An Old Time Religion”. My first exposure to this song was through Perfect Heart, who recorded it on their 1992 release, “Looking For The Wounded” The Sound’s arrangement differs mainly, because of a great ragtime intro. This was one of the first songs recorded and features Kent Morrison on lead vocals, whp does a great job. Closing out Side 1 is “Bought By The King”. This song is nothing short of Awesome, with Farmer singing the first section of both verses, with Riley taking the second half of the 1st verse & Hoffmaster doing the same on the 2nd verse, and he knocks it out of the park. The ending of the song is absolutely powerful, with Strickland taking up the key change and intensity. The Kingdom Heirs would record this (with Strickland on tenor) on their “Live At Dollywood” project, but their arrangement doesn’t come close to the brilliance of this recording.

Side 2 begins with “I’m Gonna Be Ready”, a great uptempo features bass vocalist Farmer on the verses. Farmer does a nice job on the verses, and the group kills it on the chorus. Next up is, “Mender Of Broken Wings”.  This was the other song recorded with Kent Morrison on lead, and a highlight of the recording featuring Hoffmaster. This song has been a favorite of mine for years (a regional group here in Michigan that I loved called Crimson sang this song and did a fantastic job). At the time of its recording, Hoffmaster’s cancer was in remission, so this song was very special to him.  He sings this song with such feeling, and turns in an absolutely outstanding performance.  If you’re a  fan of Pat Hoffmaster or fantastic quartet singing, you must hear this song!

Following such a huge song is the toe tapping, quartet song, “We Shall Reign”. The group sings the first verse and chorus, with nice step out parts for Strickland & Hoffmaster. Next up is another great moving song, “Hill Of Hope”, featuring Riley on the verses, that talks about how Calvary offers hope for the lost & undone soul without Christ. There’s a key change and some great harmony on the tag. The recording closes with the lone Rick Strickland feature, “Let’s Cross Over To Jesus’ Side”. Strickland sings the verses with great feeling, and the group provides some great harmony on the chorus. Its a great song to close out the recording and extremely well done by the group.

I had read that some fans considered this album to be on the same level as The Singing Americans iconic “Black And White”. While that is a big statement to make, “The World Needs To Hear” was a fantastic album with great song selection, outstanding vocals and fabulous production.  As for this lineup of The Sound, they didn’t last much longer. Hoffmaster, Strickland, and Foster would move to Nashville and continue as a trio called Exodus, with Steve Hurst (the vocal coach) on baritone. They released a Christmas EP, Cherish that is quite fantastic itself. Sadly, Hoffmaster would pass away in 1988. Although they were together briefly, “The World Needs To Hear” is an album that should be in the library of any true fan of Gospel Music.

My special thanks to David Foster for providing his invaluable insight & help for this article. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Classic Album Review!


16 thoughts on “Classic Album Review: “The World Needs To Hear” by The Sound

  1. I was thrilled to read this. One of my predecessors at church played me some of these songs in his truck back somewhere in the early nineties, I think. He had the cassette, but had lost the cassette case if I remember. The titles might have even been rubbed off of the tape. He loaned it to me and I made a copy on cassette. I searched for years to find this or anything by them. I never even knew the name of the album, just the name of the group.

    Anyhow, I eventually found the LP on eBay some years back (I want to say around 2007). I had transferred the cassette copy I had made to CDR, but it is missing. I had never gotten the LP transferred, and need to dig through a bunch of LPs to find it.

    I had once talked with Strickland about the order of the groups he was in. I had thought he might have left the Sound for the Singing Americans, as that might have made more sense in some ways and I had been told he left the Singing Americans for the Kingdom Heirs.

    My favorite songs (the ones that stick out after not hearing it for 6-7 years is “Here Comes the Bride”. “Mender of Broken Wings” (the aforementioned predecessor used to do this as a solo both signing it and playing the piano. He sounded almost exactly like the baritone or whoever sang one of the lines of the song. I would have to hear it again to remember which one)., and “Bought By the King”. I like at least some of the others (“Hill of Hope” might have been one I really liked, but I can’t recall it).

    This was a classy and great group. I hate that they didn’t last longer than they did. I wish I knew what other albums the group did (even though none would match the members or performances here). I wish I could find the Exodus EP too. It is sad that so many haven’t heard this fine LP. It is similar to Black and White and deserves a place in peoples libraries. Too bad it isn’t available on CD. BTW, how did you find Foster?

    • Thanks Q-Man! I did a little research on the album and found David had commented on there. I got in touch with him & the rest is history! He’s a great guy and I learned a lot from him.

    • The group lost Pat Hoffmaster to cancer shortly after this was recorded. I saw one of his last performances touring with Cecil Blackwood and the Blackwood Brothers in his final days. They had him following the tour bus in a limo.

  2. I’ve been waiting for this review. About time!! It is indeed a very good album. I see what some some fans mean when they say it was in the “Black & White” caliber. Or of the best debut projects ever?? Along with GV’s “On A Journey”, Mercy’s Mark & a few select others?

  3. My father-in-law – Johnny Lowrance – actually wrote several songs on this recording including “Mender of Broken Wings.” I think it’s about time that a big dog covered the song and made it a hit again.

  4. I’ve heard it said not too many years ago that if a group recorded these 10 songs on an album with current tracks, it would be a big hit today because the songs and arrangements are so good. I agree! I got this not long after it first came out on cassette and I wore it out! Eventually the group moved into more of a contemporary direction, then became 2 groups in different parts of the country, and eventually disbanded. Jeff Chapman and Terry Davis are other well-known SG alums of The Sound.

  5. Where can I find a cd or any kind of copy of The Sound, The World Needs To Hear. I have been looking for years.
    I specifically want a copy of their version if the song Here Comes The Bride by Ronnie Bishop. Our group used to play it first before it was recorded. He used to sit in with our group in Tulsa. The Sound recorded the best version.
    Janet Arnold.

  6. I sang with The Sound in 1987 after the lineup had changed several times.

    The group was owned by Don Riley who pastored Northfield Christian Outreach Center in Houston, Texas. He also was part owner of an burglar alarm business somewhere down around Corpus Christi….he was a former police officer.

    The problem was that Don would send the group out with whoever he had at any given time…..sometimes we had a bass singer, sometimes we didn’t. Sometimes we were a mixed group, sometimes we were a male quartet.

    Don told me that on one occasion the members of the group stole the bus and were doing dates and refused to bring the bus back to Houston….they were not putting their schedule on the Singing News and Don had to hire a private detective to help him find the group and the bus and bring it back to Houston…..he said there was enough dirt in there to plant a corn field.

    The real hero of “The World Needs To Hear” was Lari Goss…..without him the whole project would’ve been mediocre.

    Still, I listen to the project from time to time…..and I also think it was on the same level of “Black and White”.

    Rick Elmore

    Sent from my iPad

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