The Rance Allen Group's album The Live Experience II may have been released in early 2011, but its musical style sounds like something from about 35 years earlier. "RAG" (as the name is abbreviated in big letters on the album cover) was in its heyday in the '70s, and its music still recalls the R&B of that period, especially the music of the Philadelphia International Records groups and Earth, Wind & Fire. The history of the Allen Group is recounted in a woman's spoken introduction, after which "We Care a Lot," sounding like something Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes could have sung, follows. Allen and his brothers add to the experience by bringing in guest stars including Shirley Caesar, Called II Worship, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, and Paul Porter. They even like to borrow song titles from the ‘70s, though the actual songs are their originals: "Love Train" is not the O'Jays song, and "United We Stand" is not the Brotherhood of Man hit. The preaching is kept relatively to a minimum on this live album, although Porter gives some testimony on the nine-and-a-half minute "Love Train." But Rance Allen does feel called to speak during the 11-minute "Hear My Voice." Thinking back to RAG's glory days, he recalls the brothers turning up late to the airport to fly to California for the Wattstax concert, and finding that the airplane had already taken off. But after they prayed, an announcement was made to the effect that the plane was returning to the airport because of malfunctioning toilets. A coincidence? "Stop giving your miracles up to coincidence," Allen scolds. In fact, he explains, God sent his angels to break the toilets, and then He caused all of the passengers to have to go to the bathroom at the same time, all so that RAG could make it to Wattstax. Truly, the Lord works in mysterious ways.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
feat: Melanie Scott