Various Artists

Hallelujah: Kings of Gospel

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Music Club's compilation of male gospel singers from the Hub Records catalog is more varied than the complementary one on females (the concurrently released Queens of Gospel). For one thing, there are more groups: Where the distaff disc has three tracks each by five performers, this one has two tracks by seven different acts and one by an eighth. Beyond that, however, where the women's selections lean toward traditional arrangements in which one furiously improvising leader is heard over a harmony backup to ecstatic results, the men's have many different styles. The Dixie Hummingbirds, who lead off the set with "Move Up a Little Higher" and return eight tracks later with "Get Away Jordan," are sweet-voiced a cappella harmonizers. The Five Singing Stars, led by tenor Tommy Ellison, could be soul stars on "Hard to Get Along" and "Heaven to Me" if they weren't in church. Gravel-voiced Dewey Young of the Flying Clouds also has many counterparts in the secular realm, and the Brooklyn All-Stars lean toward pop music. Of course, there are also more traditional sounds, such as a live version of "Amazing Grace" by the Mighty Clouds of Joy complete with screams from the congregation and the same group's rendition of "Old Time Religion." But Kings of Gospel is a good album to play as an example of the influence of gospel music on R&B, doo wop, and other popular vocal music of the past 40 years.

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