Saturday, May 14, 2016

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Re-Releases The Blind Boys Of Alabama Albums With Bonus Tracks

The gospel band, The Blind Boys Of Alabama formed over 70 years ago and during that time, have produced over 60 albums and have won five Grammy awards. Their music has inspired everyone like Ben Harper and Tom Waits to want to perform with them and now Omnivore Recordings is reissuing two of the band's classic albums, "Spirit Of The Century" and "Higher Ground" on CD with bonus tracks.

After the turn of the century, The Blind Boys Of Alabama found a new abundance of fans discovering their music for the first time. Their 2001 album "Spirit Of The Century" features their iconic gospel sound blended with blues, soul and folk. It was also their first album to win a Grammy award. The album features musicians like Charlie Musselwhite on classic tracks like "Jesus Gonna Be Here" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine;" and John Hammond performing on "Good Religion" and "Soldier." Their rendition of "Amazing Grace" is outstanding and they turn The Rolling Stones' "Just Wanna See His Face" into a southern blues masterpiece. The new reissue is highlighted by a seven-song live set performed at The Bottom Line in New York in 2001. It features many of the songs from the album in a live setting. You will instantly be swept away from the strength of "Good Religion" and "Motherless Child" alongside the stark, accapella delivery of "The Last Time."

The Blind Boys of Alabama followed the success of "Spirit Of The Century" with the soul-infused album "Higher Ground." It features less of the traditional gospel songs and more modern classics by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Prince and Stevie Wonder. The album begins with the gathering call of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" as The Blind Boys Of Alabama find help from Ben Harper on guitar and vocals. They turn one of Prince's lesser known songs, "The Cross" into an inspirational, uplifting highlight of the album. Their version of Wonder's "Higher Ground" is a jolt of excitement supported by Harper on guitar and Leon Mobley on percussion. When Ben Harper isn't lending his skills on the guitar, Robert Randolph is there to turn "I May Not Can See" and "Precious Lord" into gospel/soul gems. The new reissued CD gets seven bonus tracks taken from the 2002 live performance on "Morning Becomes Eclectic." Robert Randolph and The Family Band support The Blind Boys of Alabama, turning songs like "Run On For A Long Time" and "Higher Ground" into funk fueled highlights. They close the disc with their "Housing Of The Rising Sun" style version of "Amazing Grace." To find out more about these two newly released, reissues from The Blind Boys Of Alabama, please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

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