These Radiant Gospel Songs Will Lift Your Spirits

The exuberant vocals and surging rhythms of “Jesus Rocked the Jukebox.”

Various Artists

Jesus Rocked the Jukebox: Small Group Black Gospel (1951-1965)

Craft Recordings

Reckoning PR

If you want to know how James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and a host of other great singers first became inspired, check out Jesus Rocked the Jukebox, a two-disc, 40-track set collecting floor-shaking, window-rattling expressions of joy and praise. The exuberant vocals and surging rhythms of such vital performers as the Pilgrim Travelers, Happyland Singers, and Detroiters will elevate the spirits of the weariest listeners, regardless of one’s belief (or lack thereof). Among the radiant highlights: the Soul Stirrers’ “Jesus Gave Me Water,” starring the astoundingly charismatic Sam Cooke before he became a pop star, and the Staple Singers’ eerie “Uncloudy Day,” featuring Mavis Staples, who’s still going strong today. This isn’t a definitive gospel collection, since the Mighty Clouds of Joy and solo faves like Sister Rosetta Tharpe are absent, but it’s a guaranteed good time.