Smackdown: Adam Crabb vs. Michael English, "Please Forgive Me"

Smackdown: Adam Crabb vs. Michael English, "Please Forgive Me" July 10, 2014

A limited edition recording of the new Gaither Vocal Band has been leaked to Youtube. The report is that this table project will not be sold in any common retail outlets, so if you happen to grab a copy at a concert, congratulations! There’s no new material, just slightly different vocal arrangements over pre-existing tracks for songs like “My Lord and I,” “Why Me, Lord?” and “The Baptism of Jesse Taylor.” One of the songs being re-done is “Please Forgive Me?” Of course, this is a Crabb Family original, but the Gaither Vocal Band’s arrangement upped the vocal ante several notches. It’s interesting to hear Adam Crabb take over what has now become a Michael English signature tune. Take a listen to the new lineup’s take on it. Update, July 31: Or don’t, now that the copyright police dogs have sniffed out and broken this link.

As an extra little bonus, here is some live footage of the current lineup on the dramatic breakdown: Now refresh your memory on Michael English’s version. Which do you prefer?
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  • Saved Girl

    I definitely prefer Adam Crabb singing it. His rendition is a bit clearer. Although, I must admit, that was one of the better Michael English songs. I just never have liked his jazzy, breathy style. Seriously, man, get to the real notes and get it over with. Please. Okay, rant over. 🙂 I absolutely love the “dramatic breakdown” that they put in this song. There’s nothing quite like hearing it live. This new line-up sounds fantastic. Thanks for posting.

  • Oh dear! 😉 I have to be fair, in his prime, Michael was a very gifted vocalist. His range was quite remarkable. I was just listening to a bit from his old Gaither Trio days and was impressed by his clarity of tone. But I have to agree with you that stylistically, a cleaner vocalist is better. Adam may not technically have “chops” like Michael used to, but I think he’s easier to listen to. (Although all the Crabbs have definitely been influenced by his style too.)

  • Saved Girl

    Oh, I agree that in his younger days, he sang with a much cleaner style. I just wish he would have stayed that way. 🙂 I noticed too that he seemed to be better about it after he had that surgery. (Was it throat?) But that was probably more out of necessity than anything else.

  • Yes, I think it was surgery on his vocal cords, which obviously I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but I think you’re right that he was handling his voice in a more low-key way for a while afterwards!

  • Dee Robinson

    Hands down, I prefer Michael English’s version although I adore Adam and all the Crabbs, I am saddened to see this called a ‘smackdown’ which never promotes goodwill and I am certain neither Michael not Adam would appreciate it. Every artist has their own distinct style and as a rule they have mutual respect for one another. Michael is right on the mark with this one as he is with everything he sings. People who know him well and work with him are quick to say that his talent and vocal prowess is unequaled. BTW his surgery was on vertebrae in his neck and they had to go in through his throat near his vocal chords. He could not sing for about six months.

  • I’m sorry, the title is all in good humor and taken from a series another blogger named Steve Eaton used to run on his site. It’s definitely not my intention to suggest that Michael and Adam should be steel cage sparring partners instead of friends! In fact, I know the Crabbs respect Michael English very much. I have a sneaky suspicion they wouldn’t really mind, but I apologize if it was taken amiss.

  • Patty Santoro

    Agree with you Dee. I am sure Adam or Michael would not appreciate this.

  • Lydia

    My vote goes to the Adam Crabb version. Oddly, though, I kind of liked the backups with the rest of the group better in the Michael English version. Can’t say why, though, and I might change my mind upon listening again. It just sounded like a better blend for some reason. But the solo was definitely better from Adam, for…well…more or less all the reasons Saved Girl brought up re. Michael’s style.

  • I actually agree with you about the backups. It may partly be that the mix was rather thrown together on this album. Others have commented that the group blend sounds kind of odd here for that reason. Hopefully it will be smoother when they get around to doing a project of new songs.

  • It’s a jooooooke. In fact I imagine it’s exactly the kind of joke one of them would make before landing a brotherly shoulder punch and embrace. Again, I’m sorry if you ladies took offense, as it was sincerely not my intention. Maybe I just understand guys and guy stuff a bit better than y’all. 😉

  • A joke amongst friends is a different story from a blogger or other sort joking. Many as you can see take it seriously as we cannot see what you are thinking….and everyone sees things in his own way.
    I have been a Michael English fan for a long time and will remain one for the rest of my life. He is a gifted artist who is recognized as such by the industry and by other artists also. If Bill Gaither chooses you to sing with his group, you are the best. I also love Adam Crabb and many others. However, Michael is he one I want to listen to and go to see. The experiences in Michael’s life have given him the “soul” in his voice which many artists haven’t gotten to that point in their lives as of yet.

  • I already told you guys this is Steve Eaton’s series—I’m just borrowing his idea. And Steve is one of the most passionate SG fans and collectors I know of. I’ve got half a mind to get him in on this thread since y’all are making such a fuss. 😉

  • Hello All,
    This is a series I used to have on my own site (Southern Gospel Views From The Back Row). It is now a periodic feature on Musicscribe, which is the Southern Gospel blog I currently write. I guess by your reactions you have visited neither of these sites.
    This is not mean spirited. Guys would understand the wrestling match reference (I guess more than women) and I can guarantee you neither Michael or Adam would be offended by the reference.
    Lighten up. It is all in good fun. Being a Christian is suppose to be fun, am I right? There is no reason to make more of this than it is.
    Steve Eaton

  • gina

    YGG, you are so right, and these ladies just need to lighten up! It’s hard to believe someone could make such a big deal of a whimsical title for a blog entry. You, in no way, suggested any ill feelings between the two guys, or any ill intent in your post at all. I say continue on in your commentary and don’t let these comments deter you. 🙂 Thank you for your blog; I enjoy it immensely.

  • Thanks much Gina.

  • Thanks Steve!

  • Tony Mahathy

    Simply put: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. We all need to remember that this music is Christian music. Anyone who has followed the career and ministry of Michael English knows that Michael has definitely had his share of struggles but God’s Grace has pulled him through. At the same time, there were many others who had just as big failures and they were swept under the rug. It seems to me that the criticism of Michael comes constantly and frequently. I am not sure we understand the Biblical principle of forgiveness and that death and life are in the power of the tongue. One of the six things that God hates is one who sows discord among the brethren. I am sure that wasn’t the intention of this debate to begin with but we need not to be ignorant of the devils devices.
    I think we just need to be cautious and when it comes to singing – if everyone sang like Elvis it would be boring. I am not a big fan of a lot so artist but I can appreciate the difference in their talents. Never have listened to much secular music but I can appreciate Willie Nelson’s Blue a Eyes a Crying In The Rain simply because his voice is different.
    As for Michael’s voice and singing, if you want clear and power he can do that. There are plenty of samples of that in his recordings. Simply put, Michael is the most versatile singer I have ever heard – southern gospel, contemporary, blues, R&B, country, bluegrass and classical. He has appeared on albums from Jeff & Sherri Easter, where on one song he does a Vince Gill style, Dolly Parton’s album Slow Dancing With The Moon, to hundreds more. If you want to know how good a singer is, just watch who the guys in Nashville call in when it’s time to go in the studio for background vocals and who all the other artists want.
    Just my thoughts.

  • Those of us who prefer other vocalists realize Michael still has many fans, and that’s not a problem at all. And at no point here has anyone intruded on his private life, we’re merely offering our personal tastes on his singing style. It’s just an opinion, and others are free to disagree. But I think it’s a bit of an exaggeration to call it “tearing down” an artist to say honestly that his voice isn’t what it used to be, or to express a personal stylistic preference. As you see in my comments, I’ve acknowledged that Michael’s a very gifted singer, and there are several songs of his I still enjoy hearing him sing.

  • Wow….people REALLY need to lighten up a bit around here! She’s not asking if Michael or Adam is a better singer or a better person. Just whether you prefer one version over the other. Take a breath and relax….
    And I like Michael’s version.

  • Marcia

    No wonder Christians are sometimes seen as humorless . . .
    You go, and keep on going, YGG. You’re funny, brilliant, and make all us other Christians look better. 🙂
    Now, as to this smackdown — it’s a bit unfair to compare amateur video (with bad sound recording–a smart phone of some ilk?) to a professionally-recorded and mixed audio, no?
    The sound quality of the Adam version is so inferior, it’s not even fair to judge. As for me, I’m just glad DP is still cranking out the Db on this song 🙂
    I do think that the Mark-Michael-DP-Wes-Bill lineup is the best version so far of GVB — vocal blending was superior, and 4 of the 5 singers (sorry, Mr. Bill! I love you, though) consistently sang in the smack (down?–heh) middle of each pitch, which enables a group to be as tight as a group can get. Also, vocal technique and tonal colors of each of those individuals was second to none in gospel music.
    So, for those reasons, I’d have to vote the Michael version.

  • Adam’s studio version was only very recently taken down. When I first wrote the post, it was still available. Sorry about that!