The Blind Boys of Alabama

Go Tell It on the Mountain

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AllMusic Review by

Here we go. Why can't record labels leave well enough alone? Here is the third Five Blind Boys of Alabama record on which the legendary Southern gospel quartet has to have celebrity guests as collaborators in order to noticed by yuppie tastemakers, National Public Radio. To make this one seem different than the last two -- and for the record, Higher Ground was a better album-- this is a Christmas outing. Here, Solomon Burke lends his talents to "I Pray on Christmas" and Tom Waits on the title track, with Michael Franti stepping in for "The Little Drummer Boy," Chrissie Hynde and Richard Thompson "adding" to the traditional "In the Bleak Midwinter" (which makes sense since Danny Thompson is the bassist on this date), and on and on ad nauseam. Other guests include Shelby Lynne, Les McCann, Aaron Neville, Robert Randolph and George Clinton (a ridiculous collaboration), and Me'Shell NdegéOcello. There's only one problem: These guests detract from, rather than add to, the power and majesty of the Blind Boys of Alabama; they water down the message, as well as the medium, on these sacred songs. Only Mavis Staples adds dimension to an already glorious sound. This album is a travesty; it is uninspired, sleepy, and far from joyous, a novelty record without novelty. In other words, a record only NPR could love.

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