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Audio CD, Content/Copy-Protected CD, Import, 21 Mar 2005
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The hardest working band in the business is back with a new album, new friends and an old message. With guests David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) on guitar, Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica and the amazing Billy Preston on Hammond Organ, the producer John Chelew has again assembled a stellar band that provides the basis for the glorious tones and harmonies of the Blind Boys. The dark, menacing rap from Gift of Gab from Blackalicious (on "Demons") is an unexpected, but great, surprise that shows the Blind Boys are the most adventurous "old guys" around. The album pulls off the unique trick of sounding totally familiar whilst at the same time pushing the boundaries of the gospel/blues genre.
Anyone who's heard the Blind Boys of Alabama's take on the otherwise throwaway Rolling Stones song "Just Wanna See His Face" will know what to expect here; that is to say adding gospel fervour into rock n roll songs and lifting them to a higher plane. Putting Jagger and co firmly to shame in terms of longevity (the Blind Boys have been around in some form since the 40s,with leader Clarence Fountain helming the group since it's inception), Atom Bomb exudes the same passionate-sound of their celebrated Spirit of the Century LP- if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Covering everything from Cold-War paranoia (the title track) through otherwise-cheesy pop tunes ("Spirit in the Sky", sounding as good as it's ever going to get) to an appropriation modern hip hop in "Demons", the group achieve a perfect balancing act of novelty and widespread appeal. Along the way, they even succeed in breathing life into some gospel classics- just take a listen to "Presence of the Lord". Like Johnny Cash whose later recordings trod the same tightrope, the group succeed without compromising their integrity or passion, and the accessibility of the album should ensure that it will reach a wider audience. --Thom Allott
Top customer reviews
The group have an incredibly long history, stretching back to the late thirties. Because they have so much experience and are so used to working together they are capable of producing simply sublime close harmony gospel with a streak of soul and the roots of rock. You can just feel their faith as they pour their hearts and souls into the songs, to produce some of the most classic gospel ever committed to tape. They have an absolute joy at making music that is totally infectious and will leave you feeling uplifted.
Not afraid to mix it up a bit, the boys have teamed up with rappers for `Demons' which works surprisingly well, turned to a Charlie Mingus composition for the title track and a Blind Faith number in `Presence of the Lord'. There are some traditional gospel numbers as well, the stand out being `Old Blind Barnabas', a track that just rocks along.
Going right back to the birth of soul and rhythm and blues, this is a classic album from a class act.
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A little Blues, a lot of funk. I have played this cd over and over and will be purchasing more of the Blind Boys of Alabama.
For those coming from other musical regions (I myself am partial to blues,) or for those who never considered "Gospel" before, I beg you, give this album a try. While this album is broadly defined as "Gospel" there is so much more musically here. There is Gospel, of course, but also a healthy dose of blues (Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica), a hint of funk, a sprinkling of soul, a new interpretation of rock (Clapton, Norman Greenbaum), and one (surprisingly effective) nugget of rap--- all stirred with a soul-nourishing positive vibe, and filtered through the Blind Boys' unique musicality.
This is a very special and magical brew that will bring you up and leave you there, even after the music stops.
Give it a try!
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