By the 1970s gospel music was at a crossroads. Rhythm and blues had moved into soul, and the old-timey feel of much of gospel was alienating younger audiences. It fought back by adapting the sounds of contemporary funk and soul to their songs of devotion, and in recent years these records have become some of the hottest items amongst collectors. However until now the Stax Organisation and its Gospel Truth label had been largely ignored.
Started by label boss Al Bell and run by veteran black music radio promotions man Dave Clark, it aimed to capitalise on the success Bell had had with the Staples Singers, the gospel group becoming a pop sensation on the main Stax label. The idea was that the Gospel Truth label would take existing and new gospel acts and give them the Stax makeover. The very best soul musicians in the world would take time out from cutting hits to create the music for a series of gospel soul and funk masterpieces.
This compilation tells the story of Stax's move into the gospel field by choosing the best of the output. From the Staple Singers' glorious template via the inspired and unique voice of Rance Allen, the mainstay of the Gospel Truth label itself. We have cuts from the sought-after and super-rare Sons Of Truth LP, and Joshie Joe Armstead's You Got The Vibes, a UK northern soul monster almost from the day it was released.
The 20 tracks reflect the sound of popular black American music of the day - from the out and out funk of Clarence Smith, through the group soul harmonies of 21st Century to the proto-disco sound of the Howard Lemon Singers. If the connection with God sometimes seems tenuous, it was all part of the plan to bring you to Him by stealth.