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God's Boys Are Back in Town!!,
This review is from: Feels Good (Audio CD)
In 1989 and 1990, after listening repeatedly to the original Take 6 release on Reprise and "So Much 2 Say" on Warner Alliance, I was thoroughly blown away. I still think those are the two finest a capella albums ever made. The mix of gospel, jazz, soul and r & b simply was unparalleled, and the sound these 6 made was just unreal.
Then, in 1994, starting with "Join the Band", these 6 devout Christians began to stray from the formula that made them so uniquely good, and forayed into a more commercial, pop-oriented groove. That album was so disappointing to me that I stopped listening to them. And from what I've read in the All Music Guide to Jazz, the follow-ups ("Brothers" and "So Cool") likewise did not reach the dizzying heights of the first two c.d.'s.
If your reactions were like mine, I'm here to announce: ignore no more. The Boys are Back in Town. And they've returned to a program of (mostly) a capella Christian songs, and that's what inspires them. Inspired musicians make great music, and that's what we have here.
This album is every bit as good as the first two. Listening to this confirms a point not often enough made:
For as great as all 6 voices in the group are (and they are sensational, no doubt about it), the guy who makes this group go is the bass, Alvin Chea. I sincerely believe Mr. Chea to have the finest bass voice on the planet--and that includes the opera basso profundos I've heard. Because he can ring the lowest of the low notes so loudly, he makes this group sound like a vocal orchestra of more than 6 voices. He also very effectively sings bassline counterpoint accompaniments and creates percussive sounds simultaneously, which (again) make this group sound as sonorous as any big band out there.
These guys also have a sense of humor. The one standard here is Jule Styne's "Just in Time", which they do as though played on an old RCA radio as the song might have been heard when it first came out in the '50's, before the 21st century sound kicks in. And then, in the middle of the song, one of the singers riffs on "As Time Goes By." Totally cool.
This is one of the best of the year, and the fact that Take 6 has returned to its roots is one of the biggest musical reasons to celebrate 2006. RC