Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
That's right, there aren't five of them anymore but they sound just as good as they have throughout their remarkable history. The Blind Boys released their debut 78 back in 1948. Now, at last, we have a first live album recorded at Hollywood's House Of Blues in January 1995. Incidentally, this was also the first full length concert broadcast on the Internet. The medium might change but the message and the music are timeless. This album shows that the Blind Boys are neither a novelty act ("Hey - they're older than the Rolling Stone and they can still rock") nor a nostalgia show (see the Beach Boys). No, the Blind Boys provide a living, active, rocking link with gospel's glorious past whilst still being prepared to look at contemporary issues. Thus we have "Amazing Grace", Thomas Dorsey's "Lord Will Make A Way", Pete Seeger's "If I Had A Hammer" (you didn't know this was a gospel number? Well, it is now.) and several of Clarence Fountain's own compositions, including the anti-drugs message "No Dope". As you are reading Cross Rhythms you are obviously interested in gospel music. If this interest extends towards the blues, R&B, rock and soul, in fact any form of contemporary popular music, then the Blind Boys Of Alabama deserve, no, demand, a place in your collection. If you have ever enjoyed a Blind Boys concert then this recording will remind you of how good they can be; if you have yet to catch a Blind Boys gig then buy this as a stop-gap until they tour again. Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter, George Scott, Sam Butler, Bobby Butler, Joey Williams and Eric McKinnie: the Blind Boys Of Alabama - take a bow. Will we ever hear their like again?
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