REVIEW: Chuck Wagon Gang – Radio Days

Producer: Jeff Collins & David Johnson
Record Label: Mountain Home Music/Crossroads Music Group

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A name that is legendary within country and gospel music circles is the Chuck Wagon Gang.  Celebrating an 85-year legacy, the Chuck Wagon Gang honor their rich heritage with this latest release featuring a couple of new songs, as well as re-visiting some grand songs from their vast repertoire.  As an added delight, the recording gives you the feel of one of their old radio shows from back in their early days, including commercials, announcements, etc.  Fans of the group will no doubt find lots to like about this latest release, aptly titled, Radio Days.

The recording…er, radio show…starts off with the easy feel of “TWO GARDENS”.  Featuring Melissa, this though-provoking song is a great lead off song and leads well into “THE RECORD BOOK”, which features an excellent performance by Shaye.  Both songs are highlights of the recording and are wonderful new additions to the Chuck’s repertoire and they fit perfectly with their identifiable style.

The next 3 songs are very similar in feel and are highlights of the recording for me.  “HOLY BE THY GREAT NAME”, starts out slowly, but turns into a nice bouncy number and is highly enjoyable.  The song is followed by one of my favorite old-time convention songs, “STORMY WATERS”, which has a nice bass feature, as does  “SOMEBODY CALLED MY NAME”, which rounds out this 3-song run and they are all old CWG songs, done up fresh and new!

Next is a run of non-gospel songs including “TAKE ME BACK TO Col-Ler-Rad-Da FER TO STAY” and “I WANT TO BE A REAL COWBOY GIRL”, which recalls the days when the Chuck’s mixed country/western and gospel songs within their programs.

The bouncy, “ALL GOD’S CHILDREN GONNA RISE AND SHINE” is a classic number that the group does a great with it, as well as with “LOVE IS THE KEY”, another classic Chuck Wagon Gang tune.

“I’VE CHANGED MY MIND” keeps things in up-tempo mode before the tempo slows down for the reflective, “WHEN THE SUN SETS OVER JORDAN”.

The classic tune, “I’VE JUST SEEN THE ROCK OF AGES” rounds out the recording and it’s a fantastic rendition that closes out the recording perfectly.  This is probably my favorite song on this recording.

The Chuck Wagon Gang have managed to keep their sound alive and in-tact for 85 years, a testament as to why their legacy continues today.  My only let down with this recording was that it does not feature their newest members, Josh Garner and Darrell Morris.  Along with mainstays Melissa Kemper and Shaye Smith, it appears that Stan Hill and Karl Smakula are the other two vocalists appearing on this recording.  As a fan of Josh Garner, I was thrilled with the prospect of hearing him on this recording as he’s been with the group for a few months now, but alas, he is nowhere to be found on this recording.  Otherwise, there are no surprises on this recording, and it features the Chuck Wagon Gang at their finest!

(stars denote personal favorites)

Two Gardens**
The Record Book**
Holy Be Thy Great Name**
Stormy Waters**
Somebody Called My Name**
Take Me Back to Col-Ler-Rad-Da fer to Stay
I want to Be a Real Cowboy Girl
All God’s Children Gonna Rise and Shine**
Love is the Key
I’ve Changed My Mind
When the Sun Sets Over Jordan
I’ve Just Seen the Rock of Ages**

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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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