Prime Cuts: I Want to be the Man, There is Just Jesus, I've Had an Introduction
According to the omniscient Wikipedia.com, discounting compilations, soundtracks and EPs, the Beatles only had 12 studio recordings, Elvis 22 and Whitney Houston only had a meager 7 records. Thus, it's not a small fleet when the McKameys announced the release of their 50th recording aptly titled "50." "50" which contains a modest track list of 11 songs, finds the McKamey tackling 5 new songs while revisiting 6 of their older songs. Though re-recorded, the older songs definitely bring back a sense of nostalgic gratitude for older fans. While the newer songs show the promise that the McKameys are by no means ready to just rest on the laurels and bask in just yesterday's glories.
Before we delve into an exposition of these songs, it's fair first to say a word first about the McKameys. It all started way back in 1954 in the home of a Christian minister where three of his daughters decided to sing in church one Sunday. Dora, Peg and Carol McKamey not only caused a stir in their home church, but soon they were attracting the attention of out of town evangelists. They began singing at revivals which really got the ball rolling. Despite several configurations in the group's makeup over the years, the McKameys became a tour de force in Southern Gospel music over last six decades. Not only they have mustered 16 number one records, they average over 150 touring dates a year.
For such a monumental record, it is certainly appropriate for the McKameys to open "50" with "Don't Forget the Family Prayer." Ardent fans would recall that this is the first song the McKamey's had ever recorded all those years ago. Though this is a newly recorded version, the song opens with a snippet of the original version which is a treat for those of us who are younger. "I Want to be the Man," a song about longing to be more Christ-like, easily explains the longevity of the McKameys. Though nothing ornate in its backing, the McKameys show that they can pull us into a song with its simple melodic line and heartfelt emotions. Never for sidelining the Cross to secondary importance, it's a delight to hear the McKamey's take of Sherman Long's "If Salvation Had Not Been Free."
One also must never forget that what sets the McKameys apart from many other groups is that they also do write some of their own songs. Three of Sheryl Farris' songs are included here with the best being the piano ballads "Undeserved and "This is Just Jesus." Returning back to their rustic roots with lots of banjo licks and the traditional call and response is the toe-tapping "I've Had an Introduction." But more importantly, if you ever doubt the efficacy of prayer, listening to "I've Had an Introduction" certainly has a way of stretching our quotient of faith. "50," in sum, is indeed a monumental milestone for the McKameys. Not many artists get to see the release of their 50th recording. And these songs are reasons why the McKameys are still such a vital force today.