James Cleveland

A Tribute to the King, Vol. 2

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Part of Calvin Records' extensive budget-priced reissue campaign called the "Roadshow Gospel" series, this second volume of classic and rare sides by Reverend James Cleveland is light on recording and personnel information, but it's hard to fault in terms of material. Twelve vintage '60s-era tracks by Cleveland and a variety of bands and choirs (most notably the Gospel Chimes and the Voices of Tabernacle), this is bedrock Southern black gospel from the period before "contemporary Christian music" added more pop and R&B influences: stately piano, tambourines, and Cleveland's commanding vocals are at the heart of this music. The one flaw, which is common to the entire series of reissues, is that most of these tracks were either remastered from vinyl or from poorly maintained masters: the sound is thin and crackly, subtracting a bit from the heft of the performances. However, the problems aren't annoying enough to dissuade anyone more interested in the music's emotional weight than its sound quality.

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