Said I wasn’t gonna shout for joy, but I
Couldn’t keep it too myself
On this album, gospel composer/instrumentalist/choir leader Alex Bradford leads a hundred voice black gospel choir in a live concert rundown of some of his own songs and some standards. And he creates an incredibly compelling, high-energy shake-up of pure black gospel as it was meant to be done. The soloists are good and the choir is phenomenal. This is some of that good-old call-and-response church music as only a fully engaged, anointed black gospel choir can give you. The album starts with a one-two-three-four punch of I Want to Ride That Glory Train, You’ve Got to Bear the Consequence, Heaven Belongs to You & Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody. The latter is perhaps the highlight of the album, an absolute frenzied explosion of exuberant joy. But those four songs all together just really drop you into the album perfectly. The slower tracks are also pretty good; You Can’t Make Me Doubt Him is a nice mid-tempo ballad and He Is Such an Understanding God is a slow, soulful, prayerful meditation. The live energy of this recording punctuates things with shouts of joy and shrieks of spiritual ecstasy to sometimes hair-raising effect. The 1991 CD re-release adds three songs that weren’t on the original 1960 album and, unfortunately, they’re the weakest songs on the album, which kind of makes the CD coast slowly to a stop instead of going out with the bang of the original closing song, I Can Call Him, which is a perfect track to end on. The overly mannered Restore Unto Me and a rendition of Thomas Dorsey’s The Lord Will Make a Way that is dragged to a tortoise like tempo are unfortunate inclusions. Regardless, the bulk of this album is a near flawless representation of black gospel and I absolutely loved this album. A disappointing finale detracts slightly, but this one is still a stunner and an emotional roller-coaster of a listen. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – live recording of a hundred-voice gospel choir is a touchstone of black gospel and with good reason; CD reissue adds on some forgettable bonus tracks, but it’s still a good time for all. 3 ½ stars.