Album Review: The Cathedrals Family Reunion

Cathedrals Family Reunion CoverThe Cathedrals Family Reunion Concert was one of the most anticipated announcements of 2013. The 2 day event took place over a weekend in Ft Worth, Texas this past November. Although the alumni of the group have separately and collectively paid tribute to the Cathedrals legacy through different events (Remember The Music or EHSS Cathedrals Tribute Tour) and have recorded their own tribute projects (EHSS Tribute to The Cathedral Quartet, Mark Trammell Quartet Treasures), this marks the first time that Mark Trammell, Danny Funderburk, Gerald Wolfe, Ernie Haase, and Scott Fowler have all contributed collectively to a Cathedrals tribute project. To celebrate this landmark event, these gentlemen and their current groups (Signature Sound, Mark Trammell Quartet, Greater Vision and Legacy Five) all headed into the studio to record some of the Cathedrals most popular songs, as requested by fans through social media.

The recording kicks off with the classic “Boundless Love“. All of the aforementioned groups sing on this as a choir, which was a great idea. The second verse features all of the alumni on a step out line or harmony part. One thing that I love about “the choir” is it just sounds like a big quartet.  One of the most glaring things about this project to many Cathedrals fans are the alumni who are not involved, the most notable being Kirk Talley. That being said, I was thrilled to see one of Talley’s features “We Shall Be Caught Up“(written by Talley)  from 1983’s Something Special included. It’s without a doubt my favorite cut on the cd. The lineup on this one is Haase on tenor, Fowler on lead, Trammell on baritone, and Paul Harkey (EHSS) on bass. Trammell sings the first verse and is then joined by the group, the group starts the second .with Haase taking a line. Harkey does a superb job on the step out lines on the chorus’ and repeats. Next up is another Kirk Talley composition, “Wedding Music“, with the same lineup (Haase,Fowler, Trammell) and Pat Barker (MTQ)  on bass. Pat is one of our industry’s finest bass singers.  His tone is often compared to George Younce, but Pat’s sings his solo in his own unique way. His performance on this song is nothing short of fantastic.

An interesting addition to the project is “We’ll Work” a  new song written by Haase and the project’s producer (EHSS Pianist & Producer) Wayne Haun. The first verse is unison, with Trammell featured on the second verse. Fowler & Trammell sing the step out lines one the chorus’, with Haase taking over after a key change. This song was one that I could actually hear The Cathedrals doing. The choir comes together to do a great rendition of another Cathedral classic, Dianne Wilkinson’s “Oh Come Along.   Next up is another favorite, “I’ve Read The Back Of The Book”. One cannot think of this song without thinking of Roger Bennett. Not only did he write the song, but he also sang it.  I loved the decision they made to reach back to some old live audio and feature Roger on the first verse. The group (Haase, Fowler, Trammell, Matt Fouch) kicks in and Fowler sings the second verse.

Another one of my favorite cuts is the inclusion of George Younce’s “Yesterday“. It’s not only a great track musically, but Gerald & Ernie do a great job on the first and second verses respectively.  Next up is one of the groups 80’s hits and a Mark Trammell signature, “Can He, Could He, Would He“. The group on this one (Funderburk, Trammell, Fowler, Barker) nailed this one as well, with an arrangement very close to the original. Following that is another fantastic cut of a signature song, Ernie Haase’s “Oh, What A Saviour“, with Trammell, Fowler & Paul Harkey joining him.

The signature songs keep coming with Scott Fowler’s “He Made A Change“, which was also one of  the groups last radio hits, with Harkey on bass. One of the most surprisingly cuts on the project is one of Danny Funderburk’s signature tune, “Somebody Touched Me“. This group is made up of Trammell, Fowler, and Barker on bass. This is the best I have heard Danny sound in years! His vocal sounds great, and I enjoyed this cut tremendously.  The choir makes their final appearance on the project’s next track, “Search Me, O God“. The choir sings the first verse, then George Younce and Glen Payne make their grand appearance. What a joy to hear these two men again! It will definitely be an emotional moment for the listener to hear this cut. Scott Fowler and Gerald Wolfe close out the recording with Gerald’s signature song, “Champion Of Love“.

While there may be many who focus on what the project lacked in terms of song selection or personnel,  this cd is a must have. Kudo’s to Wayne Haun on his production of the project, for making these songs sound familiar to long time fans, but fresh as well to the ear. Each member did a tremendous job, but I specifically want to credit the bass singers on this project (Paul Harkey, Pat Barker, Matt Fouch). They paid respect to these great songs and the group without trying to sound like George. Each singer did a great job of putting their own touch on each performance. The project definitely leaves the listener wanting more, and with another CFR event scheduled for 2014, may we see another recording? Who knows. But that is a great tribute to George, Glen, and Roger, and the musical legacy of The Cathedrals. A must have in the library of any true Cathedrals fan.

Review copy was provided, courtesy of Stowtown Records.


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