The Canton Spirituals

Mississippi Po Boy

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This Billboard charting album is the perfect sampling of this Canton-based group's vocal intensity. While the distribution of this album was limited mainly to the southeastern states, it gained great attention among gospel music listeners during the mid-'80s. Most of the selections are led by lead singer Harvey Watkins Jr. in his patented emotion-filled moaning style. Out of the ten selections included on this album, six have become nationwide hits. Many would resurface on the Canton Spirituals' national debut project, Live in Memphis on Blackberry Records. From the lead guitar-driven "Mississippi Po Boy" to the foot-stomping "Jeremiah," the listener is treated to a very balanced recording. The late Harvey Watkins Sr. is in rare form, contributing his clear falsetto vocals on "Heavenly Choir" and "The Bible Is Right," to name two. On the whole, this recording is very consistent with the Canton Spirituals' sound on the J&B record label. A very raw and crisp production that emphasizes the down-home quartet experience is characteristic of J&B productions, and is prevalent on this outstanding example of Mississippi gospel. While this recording is full of hit selections, it is the lesser-known selections that make this a must for any collector of raw quartet gospel.

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