Doc McKenzie and the Hi-Lites
On the scene since 1965 and never far from the quartet limelight by way of several successful projects since 1982, Doc McKenzie and the Hi-Lites hit their stride with Hold On, their first project (with home video this time as well) for MCG Records.
Producers: Doc McKenzie, Jerry Peters, Glenn Stevenson, Timothy Moore
album release date: July, 2001
McKenzie’s knack for styling his music with pop finishes and the occasional urban touch makes him appeal to more than simply diehard quartet fans. And yet he never truly strays from the signature traditional sound.
On Hold On, McKenzie and group deliver a range of material that includes a wonderfully upbeat version of the late Rev. Paul Jones’ everlasting hit, “I Won’t Complain”, complete with happy strings and sunny horns arranged by sax man Donald Hayes.
There’s something about farming that brings out an awareness of spiritual fundamentals, and with farmboy credits to his name, that characteristic shines in Doc’s songs: musically accessible and irresistable, he delivers a message that strikes a chord with everyday people.
You can almost smell the fresh country farm on cuts such as “Sow Good Seeds” where McKenzie brings those South Carolina farming roots into play to deliver the analogy.
“Hold On To What You’ve Got” also succeeds with its rootsy combo of story, song and relevant advice about marital fidelity.
These songs are consistent with much of the material on this new project: impeccable harmonies and blends from the Hi-Lites, remarkably clean live sound from a crew of seasoned producers, and on overall freshness, both in songwriting and approach.
Perhaps the best phrase to describe it is "unified diversity"; the variety of material is diverse enough to catch and maintain interest from tracks one through thirteen, but is not so divergent as to make the project disjointed.
Check out songs such as “Use Me Lord” with its throw-back driving ride, the laid-back “I’ll Be Alright” and the nearly countrified “If I Could Say A Word”, and you'll see what I mean.
Doc and the Hi-Lites excel in music and ministry, and on this album, obviously enjoy themselves in the process.
reviewed by Stan North —
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