Blues Bytes

Pick Hit

December 2005

an associate Order this DVD today

The Blind Boys of Alabama
Go Tell It On The Mountain - Live In New York
Eagle Eye

Blind Boys of Alabama

The Blind Boys of Alabama have spread the soul and energy of pure gospel music for over 60 years. On the DVD Go Tell It On The Mountain - Live In New York (Eagle Eye), Joey Williams (lead guitar), Ricky McKinnie (drums), Bobby Butler (rhythm guitar) and Tracy Pierce (bass), plus founding members Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter, and George Scott (now deceased) perform a special Christmas concert at New York City’s Beacon Theater. The show evolves around their 2003 Grammy Award winning holiday CD and features many of its outstanding guests. Half of the Christmas CD is performed, yet this only completes a third of the set. The remainder is traditional gospel songs.

This precious American act adorns the stage in sharply dressed tuxedos, which are accented in seasonal red cumber bunds. Fountain introduces the songs and guests, and pokes fun at his visionless condition. With the assistance of Michael Franti, "Little Drummer Boy" is given a solemn rendition even though lyrical mistakes are made. Robert Randolph’s glorious sacred steel guitar makes "Higher Ground" and "If I Had A Hammer" delightful. To see these unseeing men literally jumping for joy during the latter song is enough inspiration to pick up a bible or race out to a Sunday service. Later, and quite ironically, during interviews with the founding members Fountain declares he was “Born to tell people about the Lord.”

Appearing completely enraptured by the spirit, Mavis Staples hasn’t lost her powerful, scratchy chops. The songs that she sings are a highlight. The Blind Boys perform "Joy To The World" as a vocal solo along with Aaron Neville’s warbling lead falsetto. Of the distinguished guests, Chrissie Hynde is out of place. Her voice, dress, and demeanor do not match the rest of the respected performers. Thankfully her selection, "In The Bleak Midwinter" (a traditional British Christmas song not popular in America) is precious.

Those unfamiliar with the Blind Boys may be surprised to see and hear them perform "Amazing Grace" to the tune of "House Of The Rising Son." Fountain himself initially struggled with the idea. However, the song (and the album that it appears on, Spirit Of The Century) has become one of their most popular recordings. During the song’s performance, Carter miraculously holds a note, with his voice, for a duration that’s longer than mortals are supposed to be capable of doing. Towards the end of the show, he breaks free from the stage’s constraints and walks through the crowd while frantically singing. His fervent energy proceeds to turn the historic theater into a revival tent.

The 125-minute DVD’s main item is the professionally widescreen filmed and produced concert. 35 minutes of extra features include interviews with the executive producer who states, “One of the most amazing things (is to see them live)”. During other bonus material Charlie Musselwhite states, “I get goose bumps every time I hear them sing”. More extras include a promotional video for the Christmas CD and several music videos.

Seeing the Blind Boys is an authentic and distinctively American experience, which is spiritually powerful. It is deeply touching to hear people who have had to experience life at a disadvantage being thankful and carrying faith. It in itself is truly motivating. The Blind Boys of Alabama’s very being is an inspiration to keep pressing on. This captivating DVD makes a welcome addition to your Christmas traditions, and offers a needed dose of gospel music appropriate at anytime of the year.

--- Tim Holek


[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]



The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: November 30, 2005 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2005, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.