Is this a geography lesson or an Oak Ridge Boys CD? Most high school graduates don't even know what the Monongahela is! In that case, we have a good geography lesson and a great Oaks Ridge Boys CD! The Oaks come roaring back here after the disappointing Heartbeat.
"The new guy", Steve Sanders either steps into the limelight here, or is shoved....either way he takes full advantage of the opportunity and shines brighter than the sun on this release. The opening song "Gonna Take A Lot Of River" is absolutely fantastic. Steve shows off his vocal abilities here and leads the Oaks to a #1 hit on this wonderful sing-a-long chock full of great harmonies. Steve also sings a couple more fantastic cuts in "Beyond Those Years" and the slow, soulful, incredibly heartfelt "Bridges And Walls". Whether by design or accident, Steve emerges as the star of this CD.
Duane Allen has a couple of great songs as well. "I Can Count On You" is a wonderful love song (that this reviewer originally intended on singing to his wife at their wedding, but it didn't work out). "Too Many Heartaches" is a fun up tempo song that will have you tapping your foot or clapping along. Another slow, overlooked gem here is "When Karen Comes Around". I have no idea who Karen is, but who cares....this song has some spectacular harmonies in it, executed like only the Oak Ridge Boys can.
While this CD has a couple of ho-hum songs on it, they are easily tolerable due to the excessive amount of strong material here. This album is truly an enjoyable listen. And, the Oaks establish "Singin'" Steve Sanders as a force to be reckoned with....not just a fill in or the perpetual "new guy".
Outstanding Cuts: Gonna Take A Lot Of River, Bridges And Walls, I Can Count On You, When Karen Comes Around, Too Many Heartaches
Cut Outs: Never Together (But Close Sometimes), Taking One Heartbeat (At A Time)
Although Heartbeat was really the first album with Steve Sanders on vocals, Monongahela is truly the first release where the Oaks return to top form. Sanders blends beautifully with the other Boys and even gets a chance to shine on what would become his most popular song with the ORB, "Gonna Take A Lot Of River." Overall, this is full of versatility and range, a great addition!