Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal
As the liner notes explain, "gospel funk...as a genre...just barely exists, a product of years spent sifting through bland 45s and LPs, searching for a few bars of God on the good foot." In other words, the tracks brought together on this fun but slightly bewildering compilation are true obscurities: some are recordings by long-forgotten bands that played a particularly funky brand of gospel music; others are incidental gospel recordings by bands whose primary concern was the funk rather than the good word. As you might expect, the program is a bit uneven and the sound quality is even more so. "God Is All Over Me," by the Shackleford Singers, is one of the album's strongest songs; unfortunately, it sounds like it was recorded in a very large and rusty tin can. "I Thank the Lord," by the Mighty Voices of Wonder, features better sound -- but only one chord, which makes for a rather tedious song. The album's high point is Cliff Gober's brilliant funk arrangement of the traditional song "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" complete with horns and a string section; the album's most powerful groove is provided by the Modulations' "This Old World Is Going Down," but that track also provides what may be the album's most atrocious production value. You want an album like this to be more than a curiosity, to provide more moments of sheer musical pleasure. Hit and miss as it is, this one does provide some great listening, and at its worst it's still a genuinely fascinating curiosity.