simple, powerful ensemble singing

In the Spirit (Trumpet)
various artists

By Michael Campbell

Those looking for the slick, R&B-styled black gospel of the Greenes, Clevelands or Franklins might want to vacate their pew. This Alligator subsidiary label dishes up the Word from the 1950's, featuring raw and sincere offerings from the St. Andrews Gospelaires, the Argo Gospel Singers with the Southern Sons, Blue Jay Gospel Singers, Brother Hugh Dent, and the Carolina Kings of Harmony. The focus here is not on virtuoso singers backed by an anonymous choir, but rather simple, powerful ensemble singing. One can picture a young Elvis pressing his ear to the radio tuned to WRBC, Jackson, Miss., in 1950 as the St. Andrews Gospelaires imprint his musical mind with their stylings on "Tone Them Bells."

Other standouts include the haunting, blues-tinged "Shall I Meet You Over Yonder?," performed by the Blue Jay Gospel Singers. The most modern-sounding artists in this collection, the Carolina Kings of Harmony, rock out on one of the few uptempo performances, "Going on Home to Glory." This set will find a good home in the hearts of serious fans of vintage black gospel.