Various Artists

Gospel Music Greats, Vol. 5-6

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The title may lead many listeners to believe that this collection includes material by some of the greatest artists in the recorded history of gospel music, but in fact the only thing great about this disc is the compositions. On all 20 tracks, an anonymous studio group enthuses over straightforward arrangements that utilize mostly organic instruments -- among them acoustic guitar, harmonica, even mandolin -- but also include, on rare occasions, synthesized backing (mostly on the up-tempo songs). The vocal performances are pleasant, and much better than the rule for this type of compilation. The material is well selected too, balancing hymns, spirituals, and more contemporary worship songs.