Eddy Arnold “In The Chapel” Classic Album Review
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable or in the CD player; even the MP3 player. Today’s Classic Album Review dips into the deep discography of the Tennessee Plowboy, Eddy Arnold. The number of Eddy Arnold albums numbers well into the hundreds, when you figure in original releases, along with all of the compilations, as well. One of those compilations is the subject of today’s Classic Album Review. In The Chapel is a 1999 release from BMG Special Products, featuring the Gospel side of Eddy, a side not often seen. Like most artists of his era, Eddy Arnold recorded a few Gospel sides during his early days at RCA Victor. Later, he and RCA would also record four albums of Gospel music; When It’s Round-Up Time In Heaven, a 1954 10″ album, 1956’s The Chapel On The Hill, 1958’s Praise Him, Praise Him, and the final release, Faithfully Yours from 1963. Nine of the ten tracks, here, come from these albums. One track, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”, appeared on 1952’s All Time Hits From The Hills, also a 10″ release, as well as 1956’s Anytime compilation.
One of the best Gospel recordings that Eddy Arnold ever produced opens this collection. “I Love To Tell The Story” is taken from the Faithfully Yours LP, featuring the warm, relaxed style that Eddy had perfected, by the 1960’s. That style works perfectly, here, mixed with just the right amount of instrumentation that enhance, rather than overpower, Eddy’s fine vocal performance.
Also from the same album is a solid recording of “The Unclouded Day”. While I’ve always thought the way Willie Nelson tore it up on this song, several years later, was the best rendition, this one is a fine interpretation that I’m sure, had to satisfy nearly all of Eddy’s fans.
“It Took A Miracle” is an okay track. One of those tracks, that to listen to, isn’t likely to be near the top of my “choice listen” list, but Eddy Arnold does a good performance on this track from the The Chapel On The Hill release.
I do like Eddy’s version of the classic “Crying In The Chapel”, another track from the Chapel On The Hill release. It’s a rare composition of a slow, quiet song that still allows the vocalist to belt out his part, effectively, as Eddy does, here. In it’s day, “Crying In The Chapel” was a big, big record, as it was a 1953 Country hit for both Darrell Glenn and Rex Allen, while scoring on the R & B charts for the group, The Orioles. And, of course, it later would hit again for Elvis.
Another excellent track, again, dips from the Faithfully Yours release, in “God Walks These Hills With Me”. Again, perfect style for the composition.
“Near The Cross” is the only representative from the Praise Him, Praise Him disc. A great, old-timey church feel to it. You can just hear this rendition coming from one of those little country churches that once were, and in some cases still are, dotted across rural America.
Eddy Arnold then tackles a Stuart Hamblen classic, as he performs “It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)”. Taken from the The Chapel On The Hill album, it’s a good performance, lots of feeling to it, but still not quite the same level of the Hamblen original.
The version of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” that Eddy Arnold serves up, is the original lyrics that were in circulation long before the later rendition made famous by the Carter Family in the late 1920’s. It’s simply good, solid Country-Gospel, 1940’s-style.
While there may not be anything particularly special about “The Voice In The Old Village Choir”, it’s still a solid Eddy Arnold performance, with lyrics that just seem to grab your attention.
The final cut on the compilation is “The Chapel On The Hill”. In addition to being the title cut to the 1956 release, it also appeared on the 10″ release When It’s Round-Up Time In Heaven. A rather nice end to a pretty decent collection.
Currently out of print, it was originally issued on both CD and cassette, of which I located used copies of each, generally under $10. As for the original albums that these tracks were taken from, I found a copy of When It’s Round-Up Time In Heaven, listed at $31. As for The Chapel On The Hill, several used copies were located, ranging from $5 to $30, with the lower prices generally going for the later pressings, in some cases with the reprocessed stereo effects. Used copies of Praise Him, Praise Him generally were listed in the $10 to $25 range, while Faithfully Yours ranged from $3 to $20.
“I Love To Tell The Story” is my Standout Track. I give “Crying In The Chapel” my Hidden Gem nod, because even though the song is well known, many may not be familiar with this version. There really isn’t a Weakest Track.
Overall, it’s a very nice compilation effort, that, considering it’s budget status with only ten tracks (but also a low price, upon it’s release), gives a pretty good overview of Eddy Arnold’s sacred recordings. What would really be nice, would be for BMG/Sony to release a package featuring all four of the original albums. As it is, this is a decent substitute, a 3.5 out of 5.