Rev John Francis & The Ispirational Choir - A Charge To Keep

Saturday 1st February 1992
Rev John Francis & The Ispirational Choir - A Charge To Keep

STYLE: Gospel
RATING 6 6 6 6 6 6
LABEL: Opal 2323
FORMAT: 12 inch vinyl Album
RELEASE DATE: 2007-02-28

Reviewed by James Attlee

This album was recorded some 18 months ago to celebrate the Inspirational's 10th anniversary. It's one of those 'live' albums that isn't live in the strictest sense - the audience was invited to the studio, charged for the privilege and expected to sit through takes and re-takes, as I remember. However, the choir and especially their dynamic leader John Francis are past masters at creating atmosphere where none exists - their appearances on People Get Ready testify to that. The Choir, under the directions of Clive Brown, are superbly tight and the backing band contain some seasoned professionals on the gospel circuit. One criticism of the mix might be that sometimes the vocals are recorded at a level that threatens to be overwhelmed by the super-heavy jazz-funk backing. John, however, was born with tonsils that sounded like they'd been soaked in vintage gospel and when he's taking lead vocal things really cook. "A Child Is Born" is the kind of slow-building, impassioned ballad at which he and the Choir excel, complete with false endings et al. His is not the only voice to grab the ears on this collection. Clive and Sarah Brown excel on the title track and Hilda Campbell and Sandra McKee tear it up on Touch Me". Overall, though, the star is the Choir itself, a lean, fit, ensembles-singing machine. All in all, a fine example of Brit gospel and a reminder of why the Inspirationals have been at the forefront of the movement for the last decade. The only reservation is that the album doesn't quite capture the fire of a live performance - but it should whet the appetite of the uninitiated.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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