The surprising success of the Blind Boys of Alabama's 2001 Spirit of the Century introduced gospel's legendary voices -- Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter, and George Scott -- to a new audience, thanks to their bluesy takes on classic hymns and the odd Rolling Stones song. For their comeback, the Boys, all in their 70s, make further inroads. Where Spirit was a monumental fusion of swamp blues and church tradition, Higher Ground crackles with youthful energy and verve. Joined by the ecstatic lap-steel gospel messengers Robert Randolph and the Family Band plus special guest Ben Harper, the gentlemen ply their singular pipes over a thoughtful selection of pop hits by Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Prince, and others. The magical results always cut through the familiar and straight to the spiritual core of the Blind Boys' message, especially when their powerful voices are challenged by the Family Band's roof-raising sonics. This meeting of church old and new is especially vibrant on the title track, by Stevie Wonder, and the astounding reworking of Funkadelic's "You and Your Folks" with a rap known as the 23rd Psalm. This is southern gospel music as it lives and breathes today. It's hard to tell what's more inspiring about Higher Ground: the continuity of heartfelt, soulful music making across the generations; the sheer musicality of these grand, weathered voices; or the steadfast message behind it all. With grace and glory, the Blind Boys show that you can't stop the blessings.
Performance CreditsBlind Boys of Alabama Primary Artist
Bobby Butler Musician
Ben Harper Guitar,Vocals,wah wah guitar
Leon Mobley Percussion
Daniel Morgan Electric Bass
John Ginty Piano,Hammond Organ,Wurlitzer
Marcus Randolph Percussion,Drums
Technical CreditsJohn Chelew Producer
Jimmy Hoyson Engineer
Tristan Manco Graphic Design
Chris Goldsmith Executive Producer
Bruce Monical Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nice mix of gospel and songs by other artists. This is a fine cd, by the Blind Boys Of Alabama, with stand out tracks, including a pretty sweet remake of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground; where the disc gets its title. The harmonies are great and the backing artists; including Ben Harper, are solid. The guys handle the tracks well and demonstrate that they can sing more than gospel. The two tracks that really stand out for me and have a lot of feeling are: Wade In The Water and Freedom Road. This along with Spirit Of The Century, with their version of Amazing Grace; which is the version I'd like have played when I die, is sweet; set to the "House Of The Rising Sun", for the music, it's a curious mix of sacred and "secular". Even if you're not a "gospel" person and I'm generally not, per se, this cd and the other mention will truly make you feel "saved". Amen.