Album ReviewsTHE LIGHTHOUSE & OTHER GOSPEL HITS
The Benson Company released The Lighthouse on their Vista label, the low budget brand they generally used for compilations. The Lighthouse was never intended as a cutting edge, career building album like Light or Street Gospel. Rather, it’s kind of a gift to the fans – sort of a patchwork quilt that appears to have been pieced together mostly from odds and ends that just never made it onto other albums. (I wish MCA would do that!)
For instance, “My Jesus”, slated for release on the Jesus Christ, What A Man album but shelved at the last minute, is included here, giving us a chance to enjoy this laid back William Lee Golden lead for the first time. The Boys breeze easily through covers like “Oh, What A Happy Day” and “Thank God I’m Free”, but The Speer Family really got the last word on “The King Is Coming”, and when you think of “The Lighthouse” you think of The Hinsons. When singing someone else’s signature song, you’re bound to come off second best – ever heard The Statler Brothers sing “Elvira”? It happened once on their TV show. Sure made The Oaks sound good. (There is an exception to this rule: check out the Stamps Quartet’s killer rendition of “The Lighthouse” on their Something Special album, with Donnie Sumner on lead and Richard Sterban on bass – an Elvis favorite.)
The standout cut here is the ballad “Calvary, Dallas, Memphis, L.A.”, with its lush orchestration and brotherhood-of-man message that’s cut from the same cloth as the folk era hit, “Abraham, Martin, and John”. And honorable mention goes to Duane Allen for singing the living daylights out of “Don’t Take My Cross Away”. The closing number, “His Wonderful Love” is an uplifting hand-clapper that deserved more attention that it wound up getting.
With its southern gospel
production, The Lighthouse is way down the road from the much more progressive
Street Gospel. But who cares – it’s basically a trove of buried treasures.
In fact, if this were your local scrap iron quartet, this would be a great
album. But for the legendary Oak Ridge Boys, it’s just a good album, made more
valuable by its collector’s item status.
Outstanding Cuts: Oh, What A
Happy Day, Calvary, Dallas, Memphis, L.A., His Wonderful Love
Cut Outs: None