REVIEW: Oak Ridge Boys – 17th Avenue Revival

Producer: Dave Cobb
Record Label: Lightening Rod Records

The Oak Ridge Boys have long been trailblazers and have always been out of the box thinkers; hence their longevity!  Just when you think they should be at the point of retirement, they keep bringing their “A” game and shows the world that they’re not quite done yet!  This latest release has a retro feel to it, but is very gutsy, raw and natural…the way music was meant to be and used to be.  At different points you still hear some imperfections, but you also get a sense that they are being real and genuine.

William Lee Golden gets things underway with the acoustic handclapping tune, “BRAND NEW STAR” before the tempo slows for the ballad, “THERE WILL BE LIGHT”, which features an excellent performance by Duane Allen.

Joe Bonsall turns in a fantastic charismatic performance on the Pentecostal feel of “GOD’S GOT IT” before Golden returns to give a stellar performance on the classic hymn, “I’D RATHER HAVE JESUS”, which is a highlight of the recording.  When he’s done with the song, you too will feel the impact of the powerful lyric of this time honored classic, just like Golden does in this performance.

I was fully expecting the typical uptempo, bluegrass tinged rendition of “WALK IN JERUSALEM”, but was thrilled to find that the guys went with the seldom heard slower, spiritual rendition of the song.  Richard Sterban does a great job with this song and is a highlight of the recording.

The haunting melody of “WHERE HE LEADS ME, I WILL FOLLOW” is next and is followed by the novelty tune, “PRAY TO JESUS”.  While it will never make the top of the gospel chart, it’s a fun tune with a lot of truth to it and a lot of people can definitely relate to!

Judging by the title alone, “IF I DIE DRINKIN’” isn’t exactly what you may think, and while it has a lot of connotations relevant to Country Music, it does have some religious overtones, especially in the last verse and is another excellent Golden feature.

The recording ends with “LET IT SHINE ON ME”, featuring Allen.  The song starts off slow with the chorus “Let the light from the lighthouse shine on me”, but the tempo picks up to a nice pace before finally kicking into high gear and going out with a blaze of glory in full Pentecostal flare.

I hear a lot of influences on this recording ranging from Johnny Cash, Chuck Wagon Gang, Beatles and even some black gospel influences like Mahalia Jackson and the like.  All these influences are wrapped up in a very cool retro feel which calls back the days of old Country and Rock & Roll; when music had originality and raw emotion and spoke to the heart and soul of the listener.  It’s a good mix of gospel songs, real life songs and just plain good music.  This is something you can take with you on any road trip, crank it up and just jam and have your own revival wherever you go!


Track Listing:
(stars denote personal favorites)

Brand New Star**
There Will Be Light**
God’s Got It**
I’d Rather Have Jesus**
Walk in Jersusalem**
Where He Leads Me, I will Follow
Pray to Jesus**
If I Die Drinkin’
Let it Shine On Me

James Hales

James Hales, from Durham, North Carolina, has been a writer for since 2000. James is our featured reviewer and also contributes to monthly features periodically.
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