The Soul Stirrers never fully received the recognition they deserve from the pop music world, even though they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Probably best known for giving a 19-year-old Sam Cooke his start, the Soul Stirrers pioneered the modern vocal-quartet sound, characterized by a lead singer and three backing harmony voices. This approach to gospel was quite a departure from the so-called "jubilee sound" that dominated the pre-World War II American South.
On SUNDAY MORNING PRAYER MEETING, the Soul Stirrers are at their finest. This is truly inspired devotional music; each song combines elements of the blues with early rock & roll. After hearing this album, listeners can get a sense of where such diverse singers as Otis Redding, Al Green, and Joe Cocker may have gotten their soul-music schooling. Highlights include the 12/8 ballad "We Shall Be Free," the buoyant "The Lord Will Make a Way," and the gritty "Praying Ground."