ArticlesNewsVinyl Record Review

VINYL RECORD REVIEW: The Paynes – Rapture (1986)

How do you come back after releasing such a phenomenal live album like “Fire on Stage”?  You release “Rapture” is what you do!  After the immense success from the albums “I’m a Jesus Fan” and “Fire on Stage”, the Paynes essentially reinvented themselves and released this fantastic record filled with a strong country sound, along with some rock, pop, and acoustic undertones to it.  Produced by Vic Clay, “Rapture” was an extremely edgy, progressive, but yet very cohesive-sounding album, and I think Vic was the perfect producer for the Paynes at this point in their career.

Released on Eagle One Records, all but one song was written or co-written by Mike, and the group more or less went back to the vocal structure of their earlier years with most of the lead being handled by Mike, with Loreen being featured on a couple of songs.  Bill does get one feature and Keith carries the bass lines nicely throughout the album.  I really enjoyed the vocal variety found on their “I’m a Jesus Fan” album, but it appears the focal point of the group’s sound would rely heavily on Mike, which in many ways made sense, and this album was a remarkable conglomeration of sounds and music, all woven together creating a masterpiece that was…in a word…”Rapturous”!

The overall feel of this recording was definitely a step up from their previous studio albums, as the production quality is superb and the arrangements, music tracks, and vocals are all close to perfection.  I really do love the overall feel of the album and I love the cover artwork and pictures as well.  Although the album has rustic nuances to it, the cover art and pictures have a certain sophistication, giving little indication of what you will actually hear in the grooves of the record.  I do love the contrast and feel this is their most creative and ambitious recording.

“Rapture” kicks off with the electric guitar-driven title song, “Just in Case of Rapture”, which was a huge hit for the Paynes, peaking at #2 in February and March of 1987.  The song was inspired by a bumper sticker that said, “Just in case of rapture, take over the wheel”, and Mike took hold of that idea and wrote the song.  The song remains one of my all-time favorites by the group and was such a fun song to listen to on record and in concert.

“I’ll Lay My Crown (at the Master’s Feet)” slows the tempo down a bit and features Mike on the verses and Loreen picking up the melody halfway through the chorus.  The song also features Keith with a step-out line in the chorus as well.  With its heavy bass and wailing harmonica, along with some guitar and mandolin highlights, it’s a really great song and was one of the more Southern Gospel-sounding tunes on the recording.  This would be a great quartet song for a group like the Inspirations or the Kingsmen to sing and record.

The strong country beat of “Open My Eyes”, along with its driving electric guitar-driven track is another highlight of the album before Loreen slows the tempo down as she sings the heartfelt, “Someone Like Me”.  With power chords on the electric guitar giving subtle rock undertones, the song has the feel of a slow rock ballad, and it remains one of my all-time favorite Loreen features and I always felt it would have been a great radio song for the Paynes.  I love the warm glow of the song as well as the humbling lyric…“how could someone like You love someone like me, why would a King leave everything to die on a tree, if I live a million years I’d still never see, why someone like You would love someone like me”.  In fact, Ann Downing revived this wonderful tune 11 years later, on her 1997 solo recording, “Let’s Talk”.

With the vibe of a 50’s rockabilly tune, “(He Made the) Jailhouse Rock”, finishes off the first side and is one of the most clever tunes to flow from Mike’s pen, and the arrangement used for the song was pure genius.  Interestingly, the novelty feel of the song makes me think of popular 80’s rock group, The Stray Cats.  The fun music track was phenomenal with its quick drum beat, thumping bass, flying piano fills and guitar riffs, and was something totally different for the Paynes.  This would be a really fun and interesting song for someone to bring back today!

Side 2 kicks off with the haunting feel of “God’s Eyes are on the Righteous”, which is another one of my favorites from this album.  With its blues vibe, excellent bass and guitar work and the harmonica playing mournfully in the background, the music track for this song is just delightful and I absolutely love the mandolin instrumental break before the final chorus.  I’ve often wondered how this song would have fared had it been released to radio, as it’s really a delectable tune with a strong lyric and an outstanding performance by Mike.  When I saw them live in the summer of 1989, they sang this song and did a remarkable job on it and was one of my favorite performances that day.

With sound effects of a thunderstorm before the keyboards kick in, it perfectly sets the mood as Mike sings, “Waiting for the Son to Shine”, which Mike co-wrote with Milton Ostrander and their piano player, Bobby Prater.  This was the second single from the album, peaking at #14 in the Singing News chart for September of 1987.  As awesome as this song is, I never thought this was the best choice for a radio single and I don’t think the audience was ready for something as progressive and contemporary sounding as this song was.  It was very different for the Paynes at the time, and probably the most progressive tune from this album, but I also feel that it was also one of Mike’s best vocal performances as well!

Kicking things into high gear, Loreen does a phenomenal job belting out “We Are a Majority”, which was written by a wonderful writer named April Nye, and the only song on the album that Mike did not write.  This driving tune was a perfect fit for Loreen and is a highlight of the album.  Despite its country/rock undertones, I always thought this would have been an excellent radio song, but it never made it off the album.  The Freemans also recorded the song on their 1987 album, “Warmin’ Up” and again on their live album, “The Freemans Have Arrived…Live!” which came out in 1988.  It’s probably my favorite April Nye tune, and I think it’d be a neat song for someone to bring back today!

Country sounds abound as Mike is featured on the medium tempo, “There’s No Place Like Home”, in which Loreen picks up the lead mid-way through the chorus.  A song Mike and Loreen wrote together, this was the 3rd single from this album, charting for about 4 months between April and July 1988, but never quite made it into the Top 20.  The song recalls an earlier sound of the Paynes, and I thought the song should have had a better showing in the charts, but alas it wasn’t to be.  Additionally, it had been a few years since the Singing Cookes recorded a Mike Payne song (they recorded a bunch of his songs in the early 80’s) and they picked up this song and recorded it on their 1988 album, “Holding to Jesus”, and the song was a perfect fit for the Singing Cookes.

The album concludes with the rock feel of “Stand Up” and was the only song on this album that featured Bill.  Featuring power chords on the electric guitar, the song made a strong statement, calling on the church to “…stand up for Jesus, let everybody know just Who we’re living for, shout it on the hilltop so the whole wide world can see us, don’t you think it’s time we stand up for the Lord!”  This is one of my favorite features by Bill and it was such a cool song to finish out this outstanding album.

While “Fire on Stage” is my all-time favorite album by the Paynes, if I had to nail down my favorite studio album by the group, “Rapture” would be my favorite.  There are aspects of each of their albums that I truly love, which makes me love each of their albums in different ways, but there is something special about “Rapture”.  There truly wasn’t a bad song on this album and I think it really showed a different side of the Paynes than we’d seen before.  As I already stated, “Rapture” was such an edgy and fun album to listen to; it was like a breath of fresh air!  It’s an eclectic collection of songs that was very different from any of their previous studio albums and truly took them to a whole new level.  From a musical and creativity standpoint, I think Vic Clay and the Paynes were a perfect fit, as they made some wonderful music together and created a truly “stand out” album that innovatively pushed the envelope, but still allowed the Paynes to remain true to who they were as artists and musical creators.

Please check out my music page on Facebook for more content related to Southern Gospel Music including more discography reviews on other groups, we well as other thoughts and discussions related to Southern Gospel Music.  Please like and follow my page at

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.
Back to top button