Walt "Baby" Love

Walt "Baby" Love's Gospel Tracks, Vol. 2

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Gospel disc jockey Walt "Baby" Love, whose syndicated Gospel Traxx radio show is reflected in this second various-artists collection of gospel recordings, seems determined to present a diversity of styles within the gospel field. Certainly no one listening to the 15 tracks here could think of gospel as a monolithic style. Love chooses several traditional arrangements that sound like they were recorded at particularly frenzied services in African-American churches, notably Rev. Clay Evans and the AARC Mass Choir's "I've Got a Testimony," Alaska Mass Choir's "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," Norman Hutchins' "I've Got My Mind Made Up," and "I Know It Was the Blood," by Pastor Woodrow Hayden featuring Chester D.T. Baldwin. Such performances feature quick tempos, big choirs, and call-and-response solos by excited lead singers declaring their devotion to Jesus forcefully and repeatedly. But Love also shows off more current sounds. If his sampling is representative, then the early-'70s Stevie Wonder of songs like "Superstition," with its prominent electric keyboard part, is a major influence on much gospel, with such performers as newcomer Smokie Norful showing off the impact on "All About You." But hip-hop and contemporary vernacular have also invaded the gospel scene, and tracks like Paul Porter's newly recorded "I Gave It Up" sound like they could be on the secular charts right now, while Donald Lawrence uses contemporary slang to praise his Savior ("You always get my back") in "You Keep on Blessing Me," and Brent Jones & the T.P. Mobb featuring Cheryl "Coko" Gamble exhort believers to turn off their cell-phones and two-ways, the better to hear God's message. Clearly, that message is still being conveyed loud and clear in contemporary gospel music.

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