Reviewed by Phil Thomson
In the absence of high tech, it is not surprising that harmonic dexterity and vocal gymnastics were much sought after. If you were in possession of a great voice, an all-consuming passion to share your faith and the conviction that soul was your birthright, there would be no stopping the momentum. This group was seduction of the highest order, given the period in which it first flourished, though we would be hard pressed to pin such an appellation on the essentials of converting the heathen and exhorting the faithful. But it is all here, in the frivolous and the deeply Biblical in equal measure as they moved seamlessly from spirituals and hymns to secular radio material. The position of The Gates is, frankly, unassailable, having outlasted almost every other challenge to their supremacy by celebrating 70 years on the road in one form or another. To the barber shop was added elements of jazz and swing, plus the '30s fad of imitating musical instruments vocally, and the result, even through a number of personnel changes, was an exhilarating mix of entertainment and spiritual fulfillment. From the humble roots of The Booker T Washington High School Glee Club in Norfolk, Virginia to playing for Presidents, touring Europe and by '59 having a young and highly impressionable GI Elvis Presley on the front row of a German gig, their's is a remarkable story of endurance. This collection reflects that, drawing on standards such as "The Saints Go Marching Home", "Every Time I Feel The Spirit", "Swing Down, Chariot", the mighty "Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego" and "Every Time I Feel The Spirit", as well as the enduring title track, yet also making sure we are fully conversant with what happened to Job or "Ol Man Mose" and his ilk in tales from the Good Book. It's the Bible as you are unlikely to hear it these days - swinging, rocking, precision acapella. In 'Rock My Soul', the Living Era label have drawn together the utterly unique oeuvre of The Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet which, in 1998, deservedly saw them inducted into the Vocal Hall of Fame. For collectors and first timers alike.
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