Various Artists

Living the Gospel: Gospel Greats

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This Time/Life spiritual collection is essentially focused on post-Soul Stirrers gospel, after Sam Cooke helped that group revolutionize the style by mating it with pop production in the Big Bang of the gospel music universe. Accordingly, most of the tracks here are heavily oriented towards '60s/'70s soul sounds. Unless you just can't live without your Swan Silvertones fix, though, it's pretty hard to find anything to gripe about here. Of course the "Stairway to Heaven" of gospel, the Edwin Hawkins Singers' "Oh Happy Day" is here, but most of the selections, like the Staple Singers' funky "I'll Take You There" and Al Green's very '80s-sounding "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" could fit just as comfortably on any secular R&B compilation. Even pop artists you don't usually think of as gospel mavens get their licks in, as with the Commodores' ballad "Jesus is Love."

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