Detroit-born singer, pianist, and guitarist Rance Allen, along with his brothers Steve and Tom Allen, made clear the gospel roots of soul with these impressive tracks recorded between 1971 and 1975 for Stax Records and the Stax imprints Gospel Truth and Truth. With his jaw-dropping multi-octave vocals, which could soar into an ether-ionizing high falsetto, Rance never recorded a note that didn't seem to brim with joy, even when he works around the blues form like he does here on "What Is This?," and along with the solid musicianship of his brothers, the Rance Allen Group pioneered a truly American mix of gospel, soul, jazz, and blues. This generous set (it tops 75 minutes in length) includes the best of the group's Stax-era sides, including the hits "I Belong to You" (which eerily presages contemporary urban soul) and the beautiful David Porter-penned "Ain't No Need of Crying," as well as another Porter composition, "Ring My Bell," and a joyous, stomping cover of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Up Above My Head," where Rance's vocal soars up into the high atmosphere at the end of lines as if it had wings. An upbeat, bubbling set that is sure to chase the blues all the way back to Georgia, or wherever the blues comes from these days.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett