25 Songs, 45 Minutes

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About "The Gospel" Choir

Stars in their Cleveland hometown, unknown elsewhere (except for the minor national hit "It's Cold Outside"), the Choir played an accomplished British Invasion-influenced pop/rock in the late '60s. The group started off in 1964 under the name the Mods, then in 1966 changed their name and released the garage rock classic "It's Cold Outside" single, which went to number one in Cleveland in 1967. The group was then picked up by Roulette, and released two singles --1967's "No One Here to Play With" and "When You Were with Me" in 1968 -- but neither charted. The band were dropped by the label and the lineup shifted, but they did visit the recording studio often. After disbanding for a short period in 1968, the band headed back to the studio, this time with a piano player, an organist, and a sound that leaned in a more Baroque pop direction. They recorded enough songs for an album, but weren't able to find a record label. After more personnel changes, they managed to release one more single, 1970's "Gonna Have a Good Time Tonight," before disbanding for good. Thanks to the lasting power of "It's Cold Outside" and the fact that members of the band (guitarists Wally Bryson and Dave Smalley, as well as drummer Jim Bonfanti) were in the Raspberries, the Choir's music has been reissued over the years. Bomp put out a five-song EP of unreleased tracks in 1976, Sundazed issued a collection (Choir Practice) in 1994, and in 2018, the unreleased album from 1968 was released by Omnivore under the name Artifact: The Unreleased Album. ~ Richie Unterberger & Tim Sendra

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