Higher Ground

The Blind Boys of Alabama | Real World Reviewed By Jon Young

On last year's marvelous Spirit of the Century, these hardy gospel vets reached out to mainstream listeners with a bold set that included covers of Tom Waits and the Stones. Higher Ground also mixes secular and sacred, yet feels more old-fashioned. While original Blind Boys Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter, and George Scott are all in their 70s, they sing with the fervor of youngsters on devotional tracks like "Precious Lord" and "Freedom Road."

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Turning to R&B, their stately version of the Impressions' "People Get Ready" radiates heavenly grace, and the rendition of Stevie Wonder's title song is a raucous delight. Spurred by the crying steel guitar of Robert Randolph, the Blind Boys even feel the funk on "I May Not Can See." Not just for the converted, Higher Ground can soothe souls of all persuasions.

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