Various Soul Gospel 2

This set goes a little deeper than the first volume. This is one of the most consistently funky comps Soul Jazz has ever put out, partly because of its excellent pacing. The tracks assembled here range from the mid-’60s to the late ’70s, and encompass a wide range of labels from the relatively major ones like Chess and Stax, to tiny self-financed indies. The liner notes, as usual for Soul Jazz, are excellent and thought provoking. Focussing both on the origins of modern gospel music and branching out into the backbiting reality of religious music within a music industry context, the notes bring a wide array of sources and influences into the greater picture. Perhaps the extreme diversity of content helps too; as some tunes stretch the definition of gospel — Isaac Hayes’s "Do Your Thing” could either be inspirational or hedonistic depending on the interpretation, and the Marion Gaines Singers lean slightly to the former. Loleatta Holloway’s pre-Salsoul gem "Casanova” and Della Reese’s "Who Is She and What Is She to You” are wonderful songs, but don’t even qualify as "message soul.” But you’ll buy this for the non-stop astonishing vocal performances. There are some surprising grooves, too, like the Philly Disco of the Howard Lemon Singers "Let Him Come In,” which sounds pretty damned fresh for 1974. Pastor T. L. Barrett’s "After the Rain” would still animate a dance floor at six a.m.; that’s probably when David Mancuso, Larry Levan and other pioneering DJs dropped some of the gems mentioned in the notes. This set is a tremendous introduction to the funky permutations of gospel music — it goes to your hips to get to your heart. (Soul Jazz)