Rating: 5 stars (of 5)

Average Song Rating: 4.3 stars (of 5)

Members: Dallas Rogers (tenor), David Ragan (lead), Melton Campbell (baritone), Mike Holcomb (bass), Martin Cook (pianist), Myron Cook (bassist).

Song List: I Know Where He Lives; Dealing With Gold; Stone’s Throw Away; The Son Came Down; Crown Him King; Thinking More of Heaven; Heaven Knows Where I’ve Been; The Potter; Thank God I’ve Made It; Walkin’ By Faith.

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With a lineup as stable as they have maintained for decades, any member change in the Inspirations is a big deal. Two changes between one project and the next is a really big deal. And make one of those changes founding member Archie Watkins being replaced by Dallas Rogers, and you have something completely unprecedented in Inspirations history.

So there was understandably a good deal of anticipation for the Inspirations’ first project with David Ragan and Dallas Rogers. Would it hold its own in the group’s impressive repertoire?

The Son Came Down holds its own, and then some.

One of the most unique aspects of the project is the extent to which the Inspirations picked songs from writers whose songs they haven’t cut previously. Dianne Wilkinson got her first Inspirations cuts (ever) on this project, with the hymn-like title track and the uptempo convention song “Crown Him King” (featuring Rogers and Holcomb).

Joseph Habedank, who co-wrote the Inspirations’ top 5 hit “The Rose” (#4 in January ’09), had three cuts on the project. He co-wrote the project’s first track, “I Know Where He Lives,” with Rodney Griffin. The song has a similar concept to the Perrys’ current single, “If You Knew Him,” also penned by Habedank and Griffin—though it has a quite different, convention-style feel. Songwriting teachers tell you that if you have a great idea that doesn’t fit a song, save it because it could be another song. Could both songs have come from the same writing session?

There are also two songs penned by Habedank and former Perrys pianist Matthew Holt, the uptempo “Stone’s Throw Away” and mid-tempo song “The Potter.”

On more familiar turf, Sandy Knight, who has contributed many songs to the Inspirations through the years, penned the stunningly beautiful “Dealing With Gold.” The song features Dallas Rogers; it’s one of his two features on the project, the other being a re-cut of the Inspirations classic “Thank God I’ve Made It.”

Rogers came into the Inspirations with several years of experience in three or four professional groups; new lead singer David Ragan, on the other hand, is new to the professional Gospel scene. He has already been winning praise for his features on this project, and it looks as though he should be able to fill the fairly large shoes of the position quite capably. Campbell and Holcomb are as solid as ever.

Not only is it still the Inspirations, but they are sounding better than ever. The Son Came Down is a winner.