Arden, North Carolina — One can hardly begin to count the ways in which the world has changed since 1959, yet at least two things have been constant from then until now: the already timeless message of the Christian Gospel, and its powerful delivery through the music of Southern Gospel greats, The Kingsmen. Now, as their newest lineup prepares for its full-length debut release later this year, the legendary quartet and their label of some 30 years, Horizon Records, offer Decades, a stunning 2-disc retrospective full of highlights from that storied career, some neglected treasures — and the reappearance of some of the group’s very first recordings, unheard for over 60 years. The album is now available for pre-order, add or save ahead of its March 24 release.
“For the last couple years, we have been trying to get into the studio and re-record some of our favorites,” says baritone singer Alan Kendall. “Yet due to timing never quite being just right, we came to the decision that we would rather focus our recording efforts toward recording more new material.
“However, when Drew Laney, Thomas Nalley, and Cole Watson joined us, we began looking for some Kingsmen material from years past that we felt would fit them stylistically — and wound up thinking that re-releasing some of these old favorites in their original form would be something that the fans would enjoy. We have not only selected some of the greatest hits of the Kingsmen, but also some of those ‘forgotten gems’ that we felt needed to be heard once again.”
“We also came across a 1959 EP on 45RPM, while visiting at the home of original baritone Raymond McKinney, with music that hasn’t been heard in over 60 years: Reece McKinney, bass; Raymond, baritone; Frank Cutshall, lead; Jack Henderson, tenor; and Eldridge Fox at the piano. This early quartet, even under such primitive recording conditions, was an outstanding singing group, and we are thrilled to add all four of these largely-unheard performances to the collection.”
“In 1959, the Kingsmen were appearing regularly on WHBK Radio in Marshall, NC, and performing whenever we were given the opportunity,” recalls Raymond McKinney. “We would rehearse at my house weekly, and one night, we recorded four songs during one of these very rehearsal sessions. We had no idea what lay in store for the Kingsmen in the years ahead, but I am fully convinced that God has had His hand on the Kingsmen ministry from the very beginning. I hope you enjoy this collection of music by the Kingsmen Quartet down through the years, including the four songs from 1959 which have not been heard in more than six decades.”
Opening with one of those precious historical recordings, Decades winds through the years, sampling the group’s supremely rich catalog of long-retired and still active songs and lineups, right up to the current decade’s previously-unreleased “Shaking Off The Clay,” recorded during the session for 2021’s More To The Story. Mixing studio performances with spirit-filled live recordings that range from the homespun classic quartet sound to elaborate arrangements, it’s both a reminder of The Kingsmen’s unique legacy and contribution to Southern Gospel, and a token of contributions still to come.
Pre-order, add or save Decades HERE.