Reviewed by Bob Longman
We're living in what may well be the era of the best small-group singing ever, what with the Persuasions, Dayle Lawson and Quicksilver, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Glad, Sweet Honey In The Rock and The Mighty Clouds Of Joy. They're at the pinnacle of their craft, even as ever fewer people experience the sublime thrill of using their own voices in a a group. And they're Christians, to the consternation of those who insist that music Christian themes is always worse than secular stuff. The debut album by Take 6 - 2 all sorts of heads, and with slow but steadily-growing sales built a following of thousands of avid fans, including Quincy Jones, Sandi Patti, Brian Wilson (Beach and Stevie Wonder. And with So Much 2. say, Take 6 strides toward the front of the pack. Take 6's harmonies are much tighter and their attitude is much looser than Manhattan Transfer or the HiLos were, even at their peak. Their main mode is jazz, but they drop in doowop, choir, black gospel quartet, and even that stuffed-shirt stuff with casual ease. Even more, they do their own background - the drums, beat boxes, percussion, and even trombone - with their voices and bodies. The vocal parts are often patterned on those of jazz brass sections. Thus the voice becomes the ultimate instrument, and Take 6 is its ultimate orchestra. But enough about their sound. What's even better is how it works out on the disc. They sound like they're having fun, with their rapid-fire title track, and the infectious joy of their cover version of Carman's "Sunday's On The Way". The show-stopper is "I L.O.V.E.U", which successfully rocks without guitar, swings without horns, funks without bass. The lyric of the track is the simple, basic gospel message of God's love: "I am more than A-ble/Like a B-con in the night/To C that you don't ever lose your way/Because your D-fense is defective/E-ven at its best/But my F-forts will never fail because/(G,H) I (J,K) L.O V.E.U" Jesus is central to every song, but that may not stop radio listeners from flipping out over the album. Songs such as "The Saviour Is Waiting" and "I'm On My Way" have long been favourites of Christians the world over, but founder Claude McKnight, producer Mervyn Warren and the rest of the merry band make them sound brand-new. Add in BeBe Winans' "I Believe" and three Take 6 originals, and there's no escaping the Word. This is only Take 6's second album, but their impact is being felt throughout the music world. Take 6 is an instrument of joy for a God of joy. So enjoy them, and God.
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