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When gospel quartets age--and hey, this is the Dixie Hummingbirds' 75th anniversary here--they're required to make crossover records that match them up with a wide array of pop musicians. Since the Dixie Hummingbirds already did that for their 70th anniversary on Music in the Air, this time they match themselves with a sure-footed backing band of rock and soul all-stars including Dr. John, Larry Campbell, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm. "God's Radar" clues the listener in that something different is going on here: it starts off like a bluegrass tune, then the guitars kick in and they're pure honky-tonk, while the bridge is a Cajun riff. The weirdest thing about the song is how well it works. The same can be said for the entire album, which mixes contemporary songs with traditional classics. "Too Many Troubles" matches swampy blues-rock to a mournful song written by Buddy and Julie Miller, with a nice, golden-age-style lead vocal by William Bright. The sole survivor of the original group is lead baritone Ira Tucker, who joined the `Birds in 1938 at the age of 13, and he still delivers rich bursts of inspired shout-singing that's absolutely goose bump-inducing. Gospel is more than the root of soul music, it's a vital, wholly American and very alive music; this expertly-produced and laidback album presents sweet proof. --Mike McGonigal
Buy Diamond Jubilation: 75th Anniversary by The Dixie Hummingbirds from our Christian Music store - isbn: 0012256528 upc: 011661218123
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