Pilgrim Jubilee Singers

Trouble in the Street

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The Pilgrim Jubilees were among the early pioneers of the quartet vocal sound in the '50s, and they weren't about to move away from the old-time sound at this late stage in the game on Trouble in the Street. The songs (save one) are all group member originals, and the arrangements stick to the classic format -- piano/organ and bass dominate, guitar for rhythm and backbeat drums -- with a bit of atmospheric synthesizer the lone concession to contemporary tastes. The opening "Trouble in the Street" throws in a modified "Turning Point" bassline with emphasis on choral harmonies, and more piano and impassioned singing surface on "My Christian Journey." "I Love You" gets cloying with its synth wash blankets, but "I Do Too" gets some momentum going, albeit pretty sedately. "Heavenly Reunion" and "Hold Me Together" return to their usual mid-tempo groove, the latter with massed backing vocals backing lead exhortations before "Love Everybody" gets a good head of "Hi-Heeled Sneakers" steam going. "You've Got to Wait" begins to step out in bring-it-on-home fashion -- Major Robertson seems to be the Jubilees' best up-tempo songwriter, as the country jog trot blues of "The Train" showed earlier. "By and By" is just piano and more impassioned vocals, but while Trouble in the Street is solid enough, none of the songs really leap out to grab you. You already can guess the message, so ultimately it's another competent disc by these seasoned veterans but not the best place to start for a group as historically important as the Pilgrim Jubilees.

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