Spirit of the Century

Spirit of the Century

5.0 3
by Blind Boys of Alabama
     
 

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The vocal core of the Blind Boys of Alabama -- Clarence Fountain, George Scott, and Jimmy Carter -- met in 1939, years before most of the accompanying musicians on the remarkable Spirit of the Century were even born. But the disparity in age fades quickly away when the venerable gospel septet hooks up with acclaimed roots musicians Charlie Musselwhite, JohnSee more details below

Overview

The vocal core of the Blind Boys of Alabama -- Clarence Fountain, George Scott, and Jimmy Carter -- met in 1939, years before most of the accompanying musicians on the remarkable Spirit of the Century were even born. But the disparity in age fades quickly away when the venerable gospel septet hooks up with acclaimed roots musicians Charlie Musselwhite, John Hammond, and David Lindley, players who have admired the legendary vocal ensemble for years. The choice of sidemen is only one surprising element of this inventive project. Interspersed with such traditional gospel material as “Motherless Child,” “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” and “Good Religion” are songs with appropriate spiritual themes by Tom Waits, Ben Harper, and the Rolling Stones. The arrangements trade on the same unconventional approach: “Run for a Long Time” moves to a funky backbeat, “Amazing Grace” is set to the melody of “House of the Rising Sun,” and slithering slide guitar and harmonica tones slink skillfully about the tunes. Yet through it all though, the astonishing vocal blend of the septet is never overshadowed. They bite into all the material with gusto, aware that the bluesy arrangements and guest contributions can't overshadow their fervor or their message. Aspects of Spirit of the Century echo Ry Cooder's brilliant tribute to Cuban music, Buena Vista Social Club -- both albums resurrect older, commercially overlooked artists with a boost from adoring roots musicians, and both are romantic and transportive. But Spirit doesn't just reprise standards, it reinvents them -- and calls to mind the saying that gospel music is the soundtrack for a party with God. Deep, absorbing, and heartfelt, this is just the ticket.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Travis Drageset
From start to finish this album defies categorical classification. It employs the best of R&B, Afro-beat, folk, and blues while remaining true to the Blind Boys' gospel roots. And with a tasteful selection of material by Tom Waits, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and Ben Harper, in addition to their usual array of traditional gospel hymns and folk tunes, it will appeal to generations of listeners. Though varied in its stylings, the album works as a whole due to the high-quality production, arrangements, and musicianship throughout. The traditional "No More," in a slow and soulful arrangement, starts off with a plaintive slide guitar sampling of "Amazing Grace" and sits comfortably beside "Run for a Long Time," which features George Scott rapping over a percussive, groove-filled (à la Danny Thompson on double bass) and harmony- laden reworking of this classic. And the Stones' "Just Wanna See His Face," which is given a jubilee-like treatment that rivals the original, follows up a somber "Motherless Child" with grace and acuity. Other guests include Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica, John Hammond on guitar and Dobro, and David Lindley on oud and electric slide.
Rolling Stone - Tom Moon
[***+1/2 THREE AND A HALF STARS] ...the transfixing, beautifully recorded Spirit of the Century, which situates gospel and rock-era songs in a drawling blues atmosphere, challenges the Blind Boys to wade into less-familiar waters.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/26/2008
Label:
Real World
UPC:
0884108009420
catalogNumber:
95
Rank:
69004

Tracks

  1. Jesus Gonna Be Here
  2. No More
  3. Run On For A Long Time
  4. Good Religion
  5. Give A Man A Home
  6. Amazing Grace
  7. Soldier
  8. Nobody's Fault But Mine
  9. Way Down In The Hole
  10. Motherless Child
  11. Just Wanna See His Face
  12. The Last Time

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