by Enrico Scull
Say you’re in the mood for some down home gospel music. You look through your meager collection (you can never have enough bluegrass). You get out your Stanley Brothers, Larry Sparks, and other bluegrass gospel albums but where do you go after you’ve run out of the usual workhorses? I would put on Hymns from the Hills and then start all over again! Joe and his band prove what I’ve long suspected, that bluegrass was made for gospel music. Houses of worship could only benefit from groups like The Radio Ramblers and their fatherly lead singer Joe Mullins. This is the gospel band I’ve been waiting for. When I connect with a group I feel the spirit, this is the music that really “brings me to church!”
“That Little Old Country Church House”
I love it when I think, while hearing a new album, that now I found my new favorite CD! It’s like being at a bluegrass festival for the first time and for the tenth time all at once. To make the CD even better along comes Larry Sparks (a favorite singer and guitar picker of the new gospel as well as the old time songs) and Ralph Stanley, Doyle Lawson, Rhonda Vincent, Paul Williams and Dale Perry as guest vocalists.
With only the second cut, “Fallen Leaves,” I became totally immersed and forgot what I was doing. You know the feeling. We’ve all played CDs before and either skipped a tune or two or just decided to vacuum the rug while only half listening but not with this gem! It is fresh, comforting, uplifting – like down home bluegrass should be. A friend of mine and a life time volunteer at many bluegrass festivals said that this album was a “great gospel album with everything in it, a cappella in four voices, lightning banjo, Sparks, and Stanley and a chorus of children.”
Hymns from the Hills is a powerful album and Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers are a great group.
P.S. More recently after uncovering a ten year old credit with County Records I sent them the credit slip and wrote on it “send me any CD you think I might like.” They sent me Rambler’s Call by Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers, and they were right. I feel lucky to have two CDs by this group and can’t wait for another.