STYLE: Gospel RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 162844-24289 LABEL: Acrobat Music ADDCD3169 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 2
Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
The Soul Stirrers were one of the most important and influential of the gospel quartets, their career spanning many decades and their style helping to shape secular doo-wop and soul music in the post-war decades. This collection focuses on a key decade in their career, during which Sam Cooke was learning his trade before moving in secular music as one of the great soul singers. Before Cooke the Soul Stirrers were led by the innovative Rebert H Harris and after Cooke's departure another future soul star, Johnnie Taylor, took the lead. Thus this great value 54-track double CD set sees the Stirrers through their heyday and sketches out the future career direction of two of the finest lead vocalists America has ever heard. As the set offers nearly all the A and B sides of all the Specialty singles released during the period plus the A and B sides of their releases on Sam Cooke's own SAR label through 1960 and into 1961 quality control is a slight issue. Some of the earlier tracks have noticeable hiss although are still listenable and not all of the later ones would make the cut for a Twenty Golden Greats compilation but these are quibbles when we consider what is on offer: "Peace In The valley", "Jesus Gave Me Water", "Wonderful", "Touch The Hem Of His Garment", "Stand By Me Father" and many, many more - although not the memorable "Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb" from 1950. This collection features some of the greatest gospel singing of the century and the family tree of Harris, Cooke, Taylor has had a lasting impact on pop and soul music to this day. There is probably more than the casual listener wants or needs in this collection but it is a treasure trove for those ready to dig deeper and the CD booklet will point you in the right direction if you want more.
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