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The Best of the Rance Allen Group

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Album Review

Infusing traditional gospel music with Memphis soul, Detroit-based singer Rance Allen helped pave the way for the secularized gospel sound of the '80s and '90s. After signing with Stax in 1969, Allen and his group proceeded to bring their hip brand of gospel to the masses by scoring several chart hits and opening concerts for the likes of Isaac Hayes. This hits package covers the group's successful run in the '70s, spotlighting Allen's incredibly flexible and powerful voice (one listens to cuts like "Ain't No Need of Crying" and "Gonna Make It Alright" and it's easy to figure out where Prince picked up his misty falsetto from). The selections include Allen's biggest Stax hit, "I Got to Be Myself," the spiritually reconfigured cover "Just My Imagination (Just My Salvation)," and modern gospel pioneer James Cleveland's "That Will Be Enough for Me." Allen contributes a handful of slick and spirited groovers, like "I Give My All To You" and "I Belong to You," and even goes in for a little disco on another original, "Smile" (considering Allen's devout nature, it's hard to tell if the more commercial elements in the music came from him or hit-minded producers). A bit of unintentional humor also finds its way into the set, with the raucous cut "Hot Line to Jesus." This spirited collection makes Allen's love of the music plain and offers a fine introduction to both his work and to the "new," yet (historically speaking) ancient mix of religious and secular black music.

The Best of the Rance Allen Group, The Rance Allen Group
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