catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 21 :: 2004.12.17 — 2004.12.30


The Blind Boys' joyful telling

The Blind Boys of Alabama and their infectiously jubilant Christmas album, Go Tell it on the Mountain, go a long way towards setting the stage for a joyful holiday experience. Far from the mindless, dollar-driven Christmas drivel churned out each year by pop stars, The Blind Boys? Christmas offering is a genuinely soulful celebration of Christ?s birth.

The character of their music is fitting given the humble origins of many in the group. ?Christmas was the one day that us kids all got some candy and some apples and oranges,? says Clarence Fountain, the 70ish leader of the group. ?Didn't have anything else?we were too poor to buy anything else. But I knew it was Christmas, because that was the only time I got those things all at the same time?the candy and the apples and the oranges.? The soul-filled, joyful spirit of The Blind Boys? music, conveyed perfectly through the songs on Go Tell it on the Mountain, seems to stream directly from a deep parallel understanding of life?s misery. And in the case of this album, the joy is both heartfelt and fun.

Several guest appearances help make The Blind Boys? first Christmas album in their 60-year history a special work. The backing band, led by John Medeski of Medeski, Martin and Wood on Hammond B3, lays a full, textured gospel foundation on which The Blind Boys and their guest vocalists build a wonderfully diverse sonic structure. R&B singer Solomon Burke turns Harry Connick Jr.?s ?I Pray on Christmas? into an inspired plea to the Lord. Tom Waits? growling delivery on ?Go Tell it on the Mountain,? backed by The Blind Boys? harmonizing vocals, transforms an often trite Christmas carol into a bluesy swing number that begs the listener to sing along. Other guests include Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Aaron Neville, Shelby Lynne and George Clinton.

Though these expressive guest performances are excellent, Go Tell it on the Mountain is ultimately an album of delightful Christmas music, full of soul and warmth, that speaks to a reason for true and lasting happiness during the holiday.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus