Reviewed by Trevor Kirk
Although today not remembered as often as other groups, like the Soul Stirrers, the Swan Silvertones and the various Blind Boys and The Swan Silvertones that travelled the Gospel Highway in the late 40s and 50s the Bells Of Joy, based in Austin, Texas, had a huge hit and were once big enough to grace the front cover of Cashbox magazine. The sound of quartet singing was changing, with less emphasis on harmony, more on up-tempo, call and response pyrotechnics and with songs accompanied by drums and guitars. The Bells were one of the first to move in this modern direction. The biggest hit that The Bells Of Joy had was with "Let's Talk About Jesus", recorded at the first of the sessions covered here, in October 1951, and it was followed up by "Stop Right Now, It's Praying Time", cut in April 1952, and "Leak In This Old Building" from January 1953. As can be expected, the recording quality is decidedly lo-fi, but the passion and the grit of the material transcends the occasional dips in audio quality. If music from the Golden Age of gospel is your scene, this lovingly, and expertly, compiled set is worth investigating.
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