Reviewed by Paul Poulton
The vocal group who moved from straight Southern gospel to pop and soul oriented CCM seemed to be in a permanent state of flux, 25 different singers have come and gone. 40 albums made since 1964, sometimes a quartet and sometimes a quintet. But whoever sang in the group their Southern gospel influences were never far away. Joe Mosheo, an Imperial in the '60s/'70s said, "we walked a thin line". It's true, some acts would fall through the gap, but The Imperials managed to straddle the crevice between mainstream pop (they once toured with Elvis), Southern gospel and the just emerging CCM. But if The Imperials are to be considered on the cutting edge of CCM, as the CD notes tell us, it surely has to be on the safe soft side. This compilation contains12 classic hits, but "classic hits" for whom? Johnny Cash had a hit with "A Thing Called Love", The Imperials version doesn't have the energy or raw emotion of Johnny's. Their music has Fender Rhodes electric piano, gentle guitar licks and sanitised arrangements providing the foundation for the four-part male vocals. The dynamic range is pretty big, unlike today's compressed recordings, sometimes it's so quiet it feels like there's something wrong with the player, then it's loud and even hinting at breaking up. This album is locked in time, but CCM nostalgists will welcome this compilation.
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|When The Imperials hit the music scene more than four decades ago they had a sound that immediately changed the entire Gospel music world. As the times changed, so did the group’s personnel, musical direction and performance style. But the vision that Armond Morales and Jake Hess held to, back in 1964, remained the thread that continually kept The Imperials at the forefront of Gospel music. |
Over the course of their 40 album releases, The Imperials launched the careers of 18 different singers, to say nothing of the countless other performers who toured with them all over the world.
Since they returned to their roots over the last few releases, Gospel Music’s first international super-group have reignited the passion and admiration that they enjoyed when they first started recording. You don’t have to be a fan of gospel music to recognise and remember many of The Imperials’ biggest hits.
For the many millions who have followed them over the decades, the songs featured on their Gospel Legacy Series define not just The Imperials’ best songs, but the best, most memorable and most loved moments in Gospel music history.