Tyscot Records (2012)www.tyscot.com
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog.
Few longstanding gospel groups have managed to remain as classic and contemporary as the Rance Allen Group. Organized in the late 1960s in Monroe, Michigan, the trio of brothers continues to please audiences with music that is rooted in tradition but yet sounds remarkably relevant. They demonstrate this on their latest release, Amazing Grace.
The CD contains eleven new selections. “Still Working Miracles” is a lyrical follow-up of sorts to the group’s 1991 hit, “Miracle Worker.” A ballad, “Strength to Overcome,” wraps the early 60s soul vocal chord progression of I-vi-IV-V-I around the assertion that “things are looking brighter…the best is yet to come.” The trio reprises its hopeful message in a contemporary take on Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.” When a member intones, “The doors to the church are open,” the song becomes an altar call.
“All Nite” begins with a come-hither Barry White-style intro, but the source of satisfaction is Jesus. “God Is Good” has a hand-clapping, quartet rhythm. The title track appears twice: once with a modern intro and again with a “down home” version, which opens more traditionally with guitar and organ.
The bonus DVD, Music Majors, is a fascinating ninety-minute documentary produced by Tyscot Films. It is the story of the Rance Allen Group as told by the Allens, their team, and those inspired by them, including Kirk Franklin and James Fortune. What we learn is that the Rance Allen Group was always ahead of its time. They were as much the architects of contemporary gospel as the Hawkins Family and Andrae Crouch. Scores of sacred and secular artists alike were influenced or inspired by the Rance Allen Group.
Amazing Grace is everything listeners have come to expect from the Rance Allen Group and then some.
Five of Five Stars