STYLE: Gospel RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 14101-10932 LABEL: Acrobat Music FABCD164 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RRP: £12.99
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
This 21 song compilation of the Gospel Queen's seminal Apollo Records tracks (1946-1954) was compiled by Paul Jones (yes, THAT Paul Jones) who also provides a sleeve note full of discographic trivia for the anoraks amongst us (did you know that bluesman Tarheel Slim was in the Southern Harmonaires who sang with Mahalia on "Said He Would", "He's My Light" and "In The Upper Room"?). The strength of these tracks is they represent some of the greatest singing ever committed to recording tape. Mahalia's rich, husky, gutsy contralto wrenching the soul out of black gospel classics like "Move On Up A Little Higher" (strangely, like "The Upper Room" only represented here by Part One of the song) was also able to take Victorian hymns like "Just As I Am" into unimagined places. These are the magnificent vocals which brought the New Orleans gospel matriarch to the attention of the jazz-grooving white intelligentsia and before she was turned into a purveyor of religious drek by CBS. The weakness of the set is that the recordings are primitive and sound like they come from third or fourth generation master tapes, (which they probably did), as these tracks have effectively descended into the public domain with literally hundreds of issues of the material down the years by all manner of shady cut-price labels. But no matter, if you've yet to discover why Mojo magazine could recently feature Mahalia as one of the greatest 100 singers of all time or why all the current crop of gospel divas acknowledge her towering influence, this budget line album is a good place to start your investigations.
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