The Zion Harmonizers

You Don't Have to Get in Trouble

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Very early in the history of this record label came this release featuring the New Orleans gospel group the Zion Harmonizers, which blends paralysis-shattering rhythms with singing both soulful and plaintive. A funky electric guitar is the cherry on top of the sundae, or should we say Sunday, considering the lyrical content. While one can certainly applaud Flying Fish's interest in this group, label honcho Bruce Kaplan's background in recording old-time music and string bands in particular may not have made him the perfect person to capture the sound of this kind of group; and in fact, there are other recordings of the Zion Harmonizers that boast a punchier sound. All of them were released after this one, however, since up until Flying Fish came along, the group had only put out one single and no complete albums. So the label gets credit for jumping in the breach, and there are plenty of good moments here, including a great version of "Ezekiel Saw the Wheel." The group performs "How Great Thou Art" with enough power to make Elvis Presley hide behind a pile of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, while "Didn't It Rain" is put across with such conviction it will have the listener reaching for their umbrella. Another song that is featured was a popular cover item for some R&B and country rock bands in the '70s, but the version of "Leave That Liar Alone" here will put them all to shame. No information is given about the names of the group members, which seems sinful.

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