Rising to the top of your field is hard enough to do once. The Oak Ridge Boys have done it twice. If “Jesus Is Coming Soon” was their gospel “Elvira”, “I Know” was their gospel “Bobbie Sue”. “I Know” turned out to be the follow-up hit to “Jesus Is Coming Soon” that would secure The Oaks super group status in gospel music.
After the southern gospel climate change of the mid-1970s drove The Oaks into country music, they repeated that feat with “Elvira” and “Bobbie Sue”, an unprecedented and unduplicated accomplishment. In an era when The Oaks were moving in a more contemporary direction musically, this album trends surprisingly traditional. The most contemporary track is “Oh, Happy Day”. Southern gospel meets black gospel as Noel Fox’s resonant bass leads The Boys through this joyful Edwin Hawkins arrangement that every church youth choir in the country was singing at the time.
William Lee Golden gets a chance to shine on “It’s Alright”, a song Steve Sanders also recorded during his solo gospel career. The studio versions of “He Did It All For Me”, “The Coming Of The Lord”, and “Jesus Walked All The Way” are good, but they play it relatively safe compared to the high energy live concert versions on the Performance album. Having previously recorded “Mama’s Hungry Eyes”, The Oaks turn once again to Merle Haggard for “Jesus Take A Hold”, a song that paints a picture of a world that’s lost its way as its leaders wrestle with serious problems for which no man has the answers. Ironically, or perhaps prophetically, Haggard’s lyrics, written around 1970, describe to a tee our world situation today – a state of affairs that makes the perils of 1970 look like the good old days.
Larry Lee’s liner notes tell us that by this time The Oaks had performed in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. And they would go on to perform in Russia in 1976. International is a good title for this album. You just can’t keep these guys down on the farm.
Outstanding Cuts: I Know, Jesus
Take A Hold, Oh, Happy Day
Cut Outs: None