Album ReviewsJESUS CHRIST, WHAT A MAN!
One thing that has always impressed me about The Oak Ridge Boys is their ability to pull off such a wide range of musical styles. That is certainly the case with the Jesus Christ, What A Man album. A few nods to southern gospel here, like “I Enjoy The Difference” and “Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary”, but this album is clearly aimed at the youthful audience the Oaks had been courting for the last few years.
Duane Allen always seems to know exactly what a song needs vocally. He gives the radio-friendly title cut a decidedly country reading – not sautéed in southern drawl like so many young country singers today, but crisp and clear as a Tennessee morning. His approach to “Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary” returns to the rich, rounded tones of the Duane Allen Out Front album. In fact, the retro treatment of “Burdens Are Lifted” seems slightly out of character for this progressive leaning album. Energetic, up tempo tunes like “Here’s A Song For The Man”, “God Is Beautiful”, and “Put Your Hand In The Hand” were what The Oaks were really all about at the time – a young group speaking to a young crowd – a crowd that would form a fan base that would see The Boys through the lean years ahead and support their eventual country crossover.
There was a slew of second coming songs in southern gospel in the early 1970s. This theme, largely absent from The Oaks recordings of the 50s and 60s, shows up here in “Redemption Draweth Nigh” and “One More Day”. Just about every gospel group with a record deal cut “Redemption Draweth Nigh” in the 70s, so the challenge was to breathe new life into it, and William Lee Golden delivers the goods. Noel Fox’s rendition of “Since Jesus Came In” is as warm and friendly as a fireside chat, as is Willie Wynn’s performance on “I Am To Blame”. And that’s the tone of this album. The songs are conversational, not preachy.
This album is just as exciting today as it was when the wax first cooled. A great album on its own, Jesus Christ, What A Man also set the stage for a legendary gospel project – an album called Light.
Outstanding Cuts: Jesus Christ
What A Man, Here’s A Song For The Man, God Is Beautiful, One More Day
Cut Outs: None