Reviewed by Phil Thomson
Rock, rap, R&B and roots: well, if you have been around in one form or another since 1937, there's little to prove; you can record pretty much what you like and get away with it. The sound is so well documented it hardly needs teasing out, suffice to say that Clarence Carter and the late George Scott, both founding members of what was then unambiguously called The Happyland Jubliee Singers - says it all, doesn't it - sound as fresh and as committed to their craft as ever they did. The Five have grown to seven, yet their warmth, happiness and blessed assurance still oozes out of every pore. Worth noting is the Boys' take on Norman Greenbaum's enduring "Spirit In The Sky" - that cry of the '60's American counter-culture. It is delicate, understated, and for me, demonstrates how well their style adapts to contemporary writing. You'll find further proof of their impeccable timing in the rappified "Demons", a Bill Withers cover arranged around the vocal dexterity of Gift Of Gab. Am I allowed a favourite, just to ram home the point? It has to be Clarence Fountain telling the world through the words and music of Eric Clapton that he is in the "Presence Of The Lord". Here, Billy Preston guests on organ from John Chelew - and quite frankly, I can hardly tell the difference. Just to make sure you don't forget how good these guys are, they immediately slide into the thoroughly trad and very earthy "Moses" supported on harmonica by the mighty Charlie Musslewhite. Names are important, so here they are: Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter, George Scott, Joey Williams, Ricky McKinnie, Bobby Butler, Tracy Pierce - a perfect seven.
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