STYLE: Gospel RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 2877-3269 LABEL: Spring House GTPD097 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RRP: £7.99
Reviewed by Brian Carr
I will always be grateful to Jessy Dixon, one of the great voices of gospel music, for regularly touring Europe (though he failed to play Greenbelt this year after being advertised). As an admirer of the Dixon vocal chords since the early 70s, I'd observe that in recent years Jessy has veered more towards ministry, rather than seeking to try and go R&B gospel. So it doesn't need Inspector Morse to fathom that Heavenly News leans towards the traditional with it's subtitle of Spirituals & Gospel Songs. Most Dixon fans will have a version of what seems to be a personal anthem "I Am Redeemed", so too the Dixon classic "Operator". This last track is the only one on which the Jessy Dixon Singers appear. For most tracks veteran producers Bill Gaither and Bob MacKenzie have assembled a group of singers, one of whom I note is a familiar name, one time First Call songstress Bonnie Keen. "Old Time Religion" gets a chilled out reworking with the trumpet of Bob Cain giving the feel of one of those jazzy 60s television theme tunes. The track that vies for my vote as favourite is "Until I Found The Lord", with its acoustic intro and Dixon's soulful strains; while the closer, "I Stood On The Banks Of Jordan", has the uninhibited feel of a live black gospel church meeting. I enjoyed this album, but then I am biased. Though this is pretty good for those with entrenched traditional tastes one can't help but wonder what a producer like Kirk Franklin or Tonex could do with that spine-tingling voice that still sings as sweet as a bird.
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When Jessy Dixon sang 'Operator' at Praise Gathering a few years ago, people lined up around the building to buy his tapes. Along with 'Operator,' this new project features traditional gospel numbers such as 'Old Time Religion' and 'Workin' On A Building,' along with 'I Am Redeemed,' a favorite from the Jessy Dixon video, 'Santuary.'