One of the most enduring acts in gospel music, the Imperials have evolved from a traditional vocal quartet (as they were when formed by Jake Hess in 1963) into a pop-influenced contemporary Christian act without losing their trademark harmonies or their deep spiritual roots along the way, and this collection offers a bit of both sides of their musical personality. Primarily devoted to material recorded in the '70s, Classic Hits primarily leans towards up-tempo contemporary style material on tracks like the soulful "I've Got Confidence" and "Old Gospel Ship" and the Caribbean-flavored "Sail On," but the Imperials also shine on classic harmony numbers, especially "The First Day in Heaven" and the a cappella " "Sweet, Sweet Spirit." Somewhere along the way, the group also developed a taste for novelty numbers, and "No Shortage" and "Oh Buddha" go for laughs along with a Christian message (especially on the latter tune). Unfortunately, this set's liner notes offers no details on which edition of the Imperials appears on which song (which, given this group's unusually long lifespan would be nice to know) or when and where these songs originally appeared. But these 12 songs still demonstrate why this group has been synonymous with superb gospel harmonies for more than forty years, and folks looking for an introduction to the Imperials' most popular era will find this is just what the doctor ordered.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming