City Coming Down

Somewhere in the archives I recall our discussing the Speer Family’s concept video of “City Coming Down.” I can’t find that discussion but no matter. Since I’d never seen the actual video before (and since it’s now available on youtube), here’s a clip of the video (via avfl comments via DBM, who has a “name the famous people in the skit” contest going on over at musicscribe):

It can seem quaint and a bit hokey from this historical distance (not to mention that Arvin Wynn intro that only feels like a blast from the past … hoo boy!), but recall this was in the early 80s (right?), which puts the Speers right out there in front with the rest of American popular music  trying to capitalize on the new media of that era.

Maybe it’s just nostalgia but I don’t see groups of equivalent stature to the Speers experimenting like this today. I guess innovation isn’t entirely dead: there’s the EHSSQ iphone app! And of course the Hoppers and Karen Peck and others have figured out how to visually annotate their sets with  overhead video projections (look at us! no … look at the video … no no! really … look at us. .. oh wait, there’s Mel Gibson’s Jesus … ohhup, there’s Kim Hopper singing the same song now but in Jerusalem, let’s compare the outfits and … no wait, we’re supposed to be watching the Hoppers now … boy they sure are singing with themselves real pretty like!).  But this feels like pretty weak tea compared to the rollick and charm and good-natured, self-deprecating humor of the City Coming Down video. And isn’t that turnaround fantastic, with the restacked vocals and the big “but” kick?

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  1. quartet-man wrote:

    This would have had to be around 1983 or 1984 since both Strickland and English are in the Singing Americans.

  2. Wade wrote:

    Hey CVH…LOOK Suzan’s Mom!!!

  3. Tom wrote:

    I can’t say with certainty exactly when the concept video was filmed, but this “City Coming Down” video was included as a bonus at the tail end of the Speers’ “Rejoicing: Live in Concert” video. The copyright date on that video is 1985 (RiverSong Records).

  4. Tom wrote:

    The Perrys also did a concept video sometime in the mid-80s. I would have to go dig it out to get more details, but I seem to recall that it was kind of corny and featured Randy Perry in the lead acting role. Were there any other sg groups that filmed concept videos like this?

  5. Irishlad wrote:

    Again…..try out “The Dream” concept video with GC and OTGH quartets(Tim Reilly as Elvis and Christian Davis playing a not too convincing second fiddle)#63 same Arvin Wynn site.

  6. Kyle wrote:

    “The Dream” is kinda hard to watch now, given that the catalyst for the entire plot was a fatal car wreck. I remembered the song and the video, but forgot about the wreck idea, and winced when I saw it, considering how Doug Riley died….

  7. 1 old fan wrote:

    I remember a few people didn’t like the concept of this video when it came out, as they thought it depicted the Speers singing in a bar. Not sure where it was really shot, but the scene where they pull their car into the Loveless Motel & Cafe is a landmark restaurant on the western edge of Nashville.

    No longer a motel, but still an extremely popular down-home style restaurant, frequented by locals, tourists, and celebs. Our family just had lunch there last Saturday, in spite of the 90-minute wait.

    I know, some of you will say, “no restaurant’s worth a 90-minute wait.” Maybe not, but the weather was so pleasant, the shops so cute, and the passers by so interesting, the wait was not a problem. It only allowed us to enjoy a larger portion of the food.

  8. Tony Watson wrote:

    The Nelons did one around 84 or so to “Famine in the Land”

  9. Michael wrote:

    Is it just me or does Mr. Wynn look a little bit like Newman from Seinfeld?

  10. Arvin Wynn wrote:

    #9 Hello, Michael………….

  11. joe wrote:

    #10 LOL!

  12. Bones wrote:

    The Paynes did “I’m a Jesus fan.”

  13. Ron F wrote:

    Hey Arvin , Do you have anymore videos similar to the Speers. That was pretty good acting on their part. I liked it.

  14. Brady wrote:

    The first NQC I attended was in 1985. They played the City Coming Down video on a big screen just before the Speers came out for their set. That was in 1985. It may be cheezy now but back then it was a big deal.

    Also that year, the Singing Americans did a concept video of Welcome to Heaven. It was shown, too, before their set. I think it was filmed on a train. Michael English was the main character on a journey and the other group members were passengers, the conductor, etc.

    Famine In Their Land came along a bit later and is a bonus on the Nelons’ video called Thanks from 1988. The video cover says the video is award-winning, for what it’s worth. It doesn’t say what award. I do know it was filmed on the downtown streets of Nashville.

  15. Brett wrote:


    Nelons won the award for “Famine in their Land” at the Dove awards for best short form video.

  16. Grigs wrote:

    Brady, Michael English had left by the time the Singing Americans did the video. They re-recorded the song with Clayton inman and he appears on the video.

  17. Grigs wrote:

    Perry Sisters concept video

  18. Grigs wrote:

    Spencers concept video

  19. Grigs wrote:

    GVB did a concept video for “A Few Good Men”, but I can’t seem to find it.

  20. Arvin Wynn wrote:

    Sorry, I’m not really Arvin. I was only joking. I expected Michael to continue on and say hello…………Arvin.

  21. quartet-man wrote:

    #19, as I recall it had Michael English in a barn didn’t it? I think I saw some clips from it once.

  22. Grigs wrote:

    Yes, I believe part of it was filmed in a barn. The plot, as I recall and such as it was, was that a businessman didn’t have time for his son. The GVB then broke into song. At the end, the businessman rushes back home to play catch with the kid.

  23. Brady wrote:

    I stand corrected. It was Clayton Inman in the Welcome to Heaven video and as a side note, a very very young Scott Inman was also in it.

  24. Danny wrote:

    The Loveless Cafe reminds me of the place where Jake and Elwood sang in “the Blues Brothers.” We play both kinds of music here - southern and gospel

  25. Yeah... wrote:

    This was a great and fun thing to watch. I never realized that Brock Speer could get that low. Yeah, “slightly cheesy”, but for the day, that was state-of-the-art. I’ve always thought that Harold Lane was one of the best and most underrated arrangers of all time in sgm, and it was neat to see him. I also had never heard of Arvin Wynne on YouTube, and went and watched a few of his other, older ones. Great fun. So, thanks for the tip on these classics. I’ll be checking more of those videos out in the near future.

  26. quartet-man wrote:

    I’ve heard Brock hit low Bb’s. Beyond that, I don’t know.

  27. rr wrote:

    I think Bb was probably Brock’s bottom note. Brock was a good solid bass singer, always on pitch. And a good man, too.

  28. Rob wrote:

    I remember hearing the Speers live at the NQC in 1985 and thinking he was as solid a bass as any at that time..His tone, pitch and depth was spot on at all notes he sang..A lot of the youngsters should take a listen to Brock..Also tutored by Leroy Abernathy if memory serves me right..

  29. Wade wrote:

    Rob… you are correct… he went almost every week for many years. Jean Bradford…Shorty Bradford’s widow is one of the last great disciples of his teaching methods. For those who do not know. Shorty was LA’s friend and they sang together as The HAPPY 2… I could go on & on but will stop now… Irishlad is calling for spelling lessons… boy is he in trouble!!!

  30. Brett wrote:

    Cheesy video of Karen Peck & New River

  31. quartet-man wrote:

    I believe Younce worked with Abernathy too and I believe Jean Bradford wrote “Lord, I Need You Again Today”

  32. Kyle wrote:

    Vestal did a video with George Jones for “Angel Band,” too.

  33. DareISayit? wrote:

    Gold City appeared in one of Carman’s many concept videos… Was something about a tent meeting, if i remember it right.

  34. quartet-man wrote:

    #33 Dare, I believe that was the song 1955.

  35. Wade wrote:

    Q-Man… I believe you are right… but the most well known song to me she wrote was… WE AREN’T HOME YET CHILDREN.

    I had the pleasure of playing at a church where Jean led a chorus of ppl called The Parkway Singers…learned much from her and wished I had learned more. She is not in good health now and wished I had all her wisdom!!!

  36. Ed wrote:

    Yes, Gold City did appear with Carman on a video. Heard that Riley was asked to voice “The Devil” on that OR another video for Carman. Riley declined.

  37. Norma-Jean Payne wrote:

    Jean Bradford was very inspirational to many young people. Sad to report that Jean Bradford passed away this morning.
    My girls and myself sung in her group at Temple Baptist Church in Chattanooga Tennessee where she was our youth choir director. She did a superb job and was loved by all.

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