Home Read Classic Album Review: Blind Boys of Alabama | Spirit of the Century

Classic Album Review: Blind Boys of Alabama | Spirit of the Century

Never mind the afterlife — this gospel gem is as close to heaven as you can get.

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This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


If anybody can pull off that title without fronting, it’s these guys. Gospel legends The Blind Boys of Alabama have been together in one form or another since the late ’30s — meaning this is their eighth decade in action.

Fittingly, this umpteenth entry in their catalogue features a century-spanning combination of traditional southern gospel harmony and surprisingly contemporary songwriting. Along with public-domain classics such as Amazing Grace and Motherless Child, the Blind Boys apply their soulful, waist-deep harmonies to spiritual-minded cuts by Tom Waits (Jesus Gonna Be Here, Way Down In The Hole), Ben Harper (Give A Man A Home) and even Mick ’n’ Keef (Just Wanna See His Face). The smooth, seductive results are so remarkable and rewarding that the backing band is almost superfluous — even though it includes John Hammond, David Lindley, Charlie Musselwhite and Richard Thompson’s rhythm section. Never mind the afterlife — this is as close to heaven as you can get.