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Spirit of the Century

5.0 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, 9 Apr 2001
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Product details

  • Audio CD (9 April 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Real World
  • ASIN: B000059MEM
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,807 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Jesus Gonna Be Here
  2. No More
  3. Run On For A Long Time
  4. Good Religion
  5. Give A Man A Home
  6. Amazing Grace
  7. Soldier
  8. Nobody's Fault But Mine
  9. Way Down In The Hole
  10. Motherless Child
  11. Just Wanna See His Face
  12. The Last Time

Product description


The Blind Boys of Alabama are one of the longest-running popular music ensembles on earth--vocalist Clarence Fountain has been leading their exuberant gospel harmonising since 1939. However, Spirit of the Century sounds anything but a museum piece. It is, in fact, as fresh and vital a record as could be imagined. This is partly down to a judicious selection of material--just as Johnny Cash has reaffirmed his worth by turning his hand to material by relative upstarts such as Nick Cave and Will Oldham, so the Blind Boys of Alabama cover Tom Waits ("Jesus Gonna Be Here", "Down in the Hole"), Ben Harper ("Give a Man a Home") and The Rolling Stones ("Just Wanna See His Face"). Splendid though their versions of all of these are, the real strength of Spirit of the Century is the impeccably delivered gospel standards. The venerable antiques "Motherless Child", "Good Religion" and "Amazing Grace"--the latter arranged to fit the guitar riff from "House of the Rising Sun"--all sound as sprightly and vigorous as if they were written yesterday. --Andrew Mueller


Although American gospel music per se doesn't enjoy the widest of popular bases on these shores The Blind Boys Of Alabama have managed to carve out a particular niché with their regular visits and barnstorming performances. They are such an awesome live act that much of their recent recording hasn't quite done them justice. Not so with Spirit Of The Century which in every way is a great album. The Blind Boys (on splendid form) are backed to perfection by an inspired choice of musicians who create a shimmering backdrop to the vocalisation. The mellow sound of Danny Thompson's double bass kicks off the first track, Tom Waits's "Jesus Gonna Be Here", before the recognisable growl of singer Clarence Fountain pitches in with the first verse. Drummer Michael Jerome catches the beat followed by Charlie Musselwhite and John Hammond who lock into a simple riff with harmonica and dobro. As the break arrives David Lindley makes his entrance on electric slide guitar and takes a glistering solo. Clarence returns with the remaining verses before Charlie oozes a harmonica outro. Much of the album utilises these musicians, all who play brilliantly, in basically the same combination, while different tracks feature the lead vocal of either Clarence Fountain or his long time associates Jimmy Carter and George Scott. Whoever is singing lead gets backed by the other two augmented by vocalist Joey Williams. It's the power and precision of the harmonies, honed by the years working together, that is the quality hallmark of The Blind Boys. A wonderful a cappella version of "The Last Time" closes this album. Let's pray Spirit Of The Century, with its energising mix of traditional gospel songs with compositions by Tom Waits, Jagger & Richards and Ben Harper is not the final chapter in the long and glorious career of one of the greatest gospel groups of all time. Formed in 1939 with both Fountain and Scott in the original line-up (Carter used to sing with the rival group the Five Blind Boys Of Mississippi) they made their first record in 1948. Over 50 years later their creative energy is still a mighty force.

© fRoots Magazine all rights reserved -- fRoots, June 2001

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Format: Audio CD
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on 17 April 2001
Format: Audio CD
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Format: Audio CD
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