The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Five Blind Boys

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

Twenty-four years in the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi's career are surveyed in the 12 tracks on this discount-priced compilation of their Peacock Records recordings. The sequencing is roughly chronological, beginning with the group's Top Ten R&B hit from 1950, "Our Father (Which Art in Heaven)." Early on the group sings hard, traditional gospel, their style very much a call-and-response approach, with lead singer Archie Brownlee dominating the sound. Brownlee is a thunderous singer, throwing everything else in the shade. The chronological sequencing allows for an appreciation of the change in the group upon Brownlee's death in 1960, followed by the leadership of Lloyd Woodard who, if anything, is even more dominating, but who introduces a more contemporary, and often more up-tempo style. By the two tracks that conclude the album, the cautionary recitative "Speak Gently to Your Mother" and "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," there isn't much more to hear than Woodard and the organ or piano that back him up. These are bravura performances from an act that can be heard to have changed a lot over the course of its history.

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