[107] The Blind Boys of Alabama – Spirit of the Century

24 Apr

Talk about a genre I would never choose to listen to.  And the track record of the Gospel recordings on the list to date has not been good.  But the rich, experienced vocals and the wonderful musical choices of these artists make Spirit of the Century a pleasure to listen to.

Spirit of the Century

Spirit of the Century

The absolute standout track is the genius reorchestrating of “Amazing Grace” to the melody and backing of “House of the Rising Sun”.  It works far better than it has any right to.

New life, nuance and color is found in the familiar and at times overexposed classic, with an blues rock aesthetic providing an edge that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

This unexpected orchestration is a techniques used again and again here, with some tracks sounding like straight up Blues standards until the lyrics are factored in, holding attention and breathing life into a genre that so often seems to fall flat for me.

There is a modern sensibility, a cool swing throughout, highlighted by great blues guitar work and harmonica wailing that would stand out on any number of exceptional secular records.

I am somehow unsurprised when I learn that some of these songs of praise were in fact penned by Tom Waits and the Rolling Stones.

The vocals are all appropriately raw and worldly, but none more so than on “Run On For A Long Time”, where the singer rumbles and grumbles at almost sub-audial levels while the drums and close harmonies keep the whole thing moving forward.

I play this track again and again.

It just goes to show – if you want me (or anyone else for that matter) to listen to religious music, you need to put the music, not the religion, first . . .

Next Week:  Blondie – Parallel Lines

Owned before blogging? No. (10 of 107 = 9%)
Heard before blogging? No. (16 of 107 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (88 of 107 = 82%)

One Response to “[107] The Blind Boys of Alabama – Spirit of the Century”


  1. [146] Solomon Burke – Don’t Give Up On Me | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - January 29, 2016

    […] in one of the highlights of this disc foll of highlights, The Blind Boys of Alabama join Burke in going to church on the soulful and haunting “None Of Us Are Free”, […]

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