May 2nd, 2016

BB2

Title: Spirit of the Century

Artist: Blind Boys of Alabama

Label: Omnivore Recordings

Formats: CD, MP3

Release Date: May 13, 2016

 

BB1

Title: Higher Ground

Artist: Blind Boys of Alabama

Label: Omnivore Recordings

Formats: CD, MP3

Release Date: May 13, 2016

 

 

Omnivore Recordings is releasing expanded versions of two definitive albums by the Blind Boys of Alabama, Spirit of the Century and Higher Ground. Each album includes previously unreleased recordings drawn from live performances.

Spirit of the Century, originally released in 2001, won a Grammy for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album. This is all the more impressive since the Blind Boys of Alabama were already 60 years into their career at that point. More recently, a version of the album’s song “Way Down in the Hole” gained national attention when it was used as the theme song for the first season of HBO’s The Wire. The expanded reissue includes seven previously unissued tracks recorded live at The Bottom Line in New York City in 2001.

Released a year later, Higher Ground featured musical backing from Robert Randolph & the Family Band, as well as multiple guest appearances from Ben Harper. The album rearranged traditional hymns as well as classic songs by Curtis Mayfield, Funkadelic, and Aretha Franklin, and won the group their second consecutive Grammy. The expanded edition includes another seven previously unreleased tracks that were recorded live on KCRW radio’s Morning Becomes Eclectic show in 2002.

Both reissues include new essays by author Davin Seay, which help bring a fresh perspective to these classic albums and bonus tracks.

Reviewed by Anna Polovick

Review Genre(s): Gospel Music and Spirituals


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