STYLE: Gospel RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 7840-7601 LABEL: Word 7019202608 FORMAT: CD Album
Reviewed by James Attlee
These guys have been at it near enough thirty years and as far as black gospel quartets go they have every right to regard themselves as the guv'ners. Lead singer (mighty screamer) Willie Joe Ligon formed the Clouds when he was only 14 and together they have seen musical trends come and go, often reflected in their numerous backing bands. They have flirted with the commercial mainstream, appearing on stage with The Rolling Stones and Earth Wind and Fire, but have never thankfully lost sight of their gospel roots. This live set recorded at Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church, Atlanta opens with a scorching breakneck version of the Cleveland classic "Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus" and the album is strong on traditional-style workouts, with the band settling for a soul-gospel groove that gives the proceedings a timeless feel. "Heavy Load" has the Clouds motoring along in great form while Ligon whips up the crowd to ever new peaks of frenzy with his inimitable hollered call and response style. The soaring falsetto of Paul Beasley from the early eighties Clouds line-up is still sadly missed, leaving a touch too much of the attention on the Ligon vocal chords (if you want to hear Beasley take the human voice into another dimension, try 1983's 'Mighty Clouds Alive'.) That apart, this is a fine traditional set, which leaves Ligon holding on to his crown as King of the hard-gospel shouters and his subjects convinced that there's still plenty of Reign left in them thar' Clouds.
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