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  • Spirit of the Century
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Spirit of the Century

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Audio CD, April 24, 2001
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Long known as the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, this venerable gospel institution has seen its ranks fluctuate in recent years. Rarely, however, have the soul-stirring harmonies of the group, recording here as a quartet, benefited from such stellar support. Producer John Chelew (best known for John Hiatt's breakthrough Bring the Family) has enlisted guitarists David Lindley and John Hammond, bassist Danny Thompson, drummer Michael Jerome, and harmonica ace Charlie Musselwhite for a set that celebrates the bluesy underpinnings of gospel.

The selection of material mixes the traditional spirituals the group has been performing for more than a half century ("Nobody's Fault but Mine," "Motherless Child") with soulful readings from the more contemporary songbooks of Tom Waits, the Rolling Stones, and Ben Harper. Harper's "Give a Man a Home" receives a majestic vocal from Clarence Fountain, while the album's most audacious cut pairs the lyrics to "Amazing Grace" with the melody from "House of the Rising Sun." --Don McLeese


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

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 24, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Real World
  • ASIN: B000059MEM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,724 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By M. Holderman on July 21, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Glory, Glory! The Blind Boys of Alabama are kickin' on "Spirit of the Century"! The music world has never known Gospel any better. With a real bluesy kinda feel, this cd earned it's permanant spot in my 25-disc cd player. My Pioneer's are rockin! The Boys have been harmonizing since 1936, in which they met at the Talladega Institue for the Blind. This cd just did something for my spirit....ya know what I mean. Probably the better known song on this one is Amazing Grace, but this is no Amazing Grace like you've ever heard before. To the tune of House of the Rising Sun, there is something special about this song. It mesmerized me. It's just beautiful! I first heard this particular song on Dave Letterman.....yep, that's right, Dave. I knew I had to get it! Essentialy, these are old Spirituals kicked up a few notches! The Blind Boys of Alabama are Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter, George Scott and Joey Williams. Joining them on this cd is Michael Jerome on Drums, David Lindley on Oud & Electric & Slide Guitars, Danny Thompson on Double Bass, Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica, and John Hammond on Dobro & Electric Guitar. The only accapella song on the cd is fittingly the last song, "The Last Time." I have a few other cd's of the The Blind Boys, but I believe this is my favorite. They have spent most of thier lives, traveling, singing and sharing Jesus through their music. They've often been highlighted at several House of Blues and drawn many to their music and their message. If you're looking for some good Gospel, your search has ended. Two words: COOL TUNES! Get it!
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Harding VINE VOICE on October 17, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I bought this CD after hearing a couple of cuts while shopping for music. Gospel music never much interested me before, but the music and the vocal harmonies on Spirit of the Century made me listen with a different attitude.
I had heard the Blind Boys of Alabama before on a couple of cuts of a Charlie Musselwhite CD, but I never thought they could be this good. There are some powerful tunes here! My favorites are the Tom Waits compositions Jesus Gonna Be Here and Way Down In The Hole, the traditional classic Motherless Child, and a blistering rendition of the traditional Soldier. The highlight of the CD is Amazing Grace sung to the tune of House of the Rising Sun.
Its ironic that the presence of Amazing Grace, which is kind of an obligatory country/gospel song, almost kept me from buying the CD. I am not fond of the traditional tune but the BBofA give it a memorable arrangement. Its simply tremendous.
Blues greats John Hammond and Charlie Musselwhite accompany the Blind Boys here, giving the music extra thrust. Even if you are not a spiritual person, you can't help but have the spirit move you when you hear this CD which is rockin' gospel at its best.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 24, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I was surprised by this Blind Boys of Alabama CD. It features Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter, George Scott and Joey Williams with John Hammon, David Lindley, Charlie Musselwhite, Danny Thompson And Michael Jerome blind men who met at Talledege Institute for the Blind in 1939. Now in their seventies use blues to liven up classic gospel arrangements. Their clever version of Amazing grace to the tune of The House of the Rising Sun, will haunt you while it drags you along your wretched past. Produced by Realworld released today April 24, 2001.
I am not a music critic nor do I know much about gospel music but I know what I like. Using their voices and drums they create a clean and simple but powerful reaction from the listener. Other instruments are used sparingly I liked the heavy voice with the bass and running drums in Run for a Long Time.
The traditional call and response style used in Good Religion is done very well. The strong version is held up by the bare bones of the style.
The Last Time the final cut on the CD is very strong and sad. Is this the last time they will work together. It just may be the last time to sing or write a review who knows what the future holds?
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 7, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This is a superb gospel/blues album with the great vocals and the 4-part harmonies of the Blind Boys of Alabama. This album shares some of the personnel on John Hammond's (and Tom Wait's) incredible "Wicked Grin," with John Hammond playing a growly, punchy Dobro, and Charlie Musselwhite, tearing it with his gut-wrenchingly beautiful harp. (There's even one song written by Tom Waits).
The opening track is one of the best. Starting with a big double bass (Danny Thompson), Clarence Fountain's smooth vocals are laid over Hammond's insistent Dobro and David Lindley's soulful slide guitar, followed by a sinewy harp solo. Add Michael Johnson on drums you have a savory concoction. Lean and mean, it ain't nothing but the gospel played blue.
More slide guitar follows on "No More," where we get our first taste of all four singers. "Run On for a Long Time" features richly textured vocals and spirited drums-this is a head-shaking, toe-tapping take on the traditional song. Clarence Fountain, George Scott, Jimmy Carter, and Joey Williams generate a subdued excitement, the result of their sincerity and precise-but never precious -harmonies, lead cuts, and hearty gospel inflections. There's a gentle power here.
While this is a spiritual album, it's also fun and slightly irreverent. "Good Religion" includes a few Little Richard type howls (showing L.R.'s gospel roots), and, of course, "Amazing Grace" set to the riffs of "House of the Rising Sun" gives a smile of joy and surprise. It's an instant classic. The group also does the Jagger/Richards "Just Wanna See His Face," with great bass by Thompson and some wailing background vocals.

Still, it's the basic liturgical sound of the blues mixed with the anguish and hope of spirituals that fuel the listener's emotional response.
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