Stories » Blind Boys of Alabama re-release - Spirit of the Century & Higher Ground / relix

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Blind Boys of Alabama re-release - Spirit of the Century & Higher Ground / relix

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An American institution, the Blind Boys of Alabama tap tradition in a contemporary context. Their following was once confined to sacred circles, but they have not only narrowed the divide between the spiritual and the secular, but also often eliminate it entirely. The re-release of two of their most defining albums, Spirit of the Century and Higher Ground (from 2001 and 2002, respectively), proves that point completely. Made up of songs that convey an upward gaze, they lean toward standards that strike a reverential note with fervent believers and pop purists alike. Consequently, each offers the potential for a universal embrace, musically and emotionally. That's especially evident on Higher Ground, which revisits such common core classics as "People Get Ready," "Stand by Me," "Many Rivers to Cross" and "Higher Ground" through faith and tenacity that hew to that higher purpose. A cover of Prince's little-known "The Cross" further affirms the popular appeal, while the appearances of Ben Harper and Robert Randolph underscore the crossover connection. Spirit of the Century doesn't go quite as far in terms of content, but the inclusion of "Amazing Grace," "Nobody's Fault but Mine" and "Motherless Child" keeps the familiarity factor intact. Swing, soul, blues and gospel all converge, and whether it's a mournful melody or a jazzy romp, there's a full quotient of reverence and rejoicing, the sacred and the celebratory-all of which combine for a singular purpose. Both reissues also come well stocked with bonus live tracks recorded in the months following the studio sessions. They make acquisition all the more essential for devotees and new converts alike.

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