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The Last Mile of the Way

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Album Review

While the Soul Stirrers' catalog has been thoroughly documented on many Specialty reissues, the 28 tracks presented here show that even their secondary and/or alternate cuts were outstanding. They pioneered the use of a double lead, with Sam Cooke's wondrous tenor contrasted by several other superb vocalists from Paul Foster to Julius Cheeks. There's even one cut where guitarist Bob King takes a turn at the microphone and doesn't disgrace himself. Through the many performances — previously released or not — it's instructive to hear the discussions, fragments, and partial pieces that show the Soul Stirrers experimenting and perfecting the formula that made gospel history.


Formed: 1927 in Trinity, TX

Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Indisputably among the premier gospel groups of the modern era, the Soul Stirrers pioneered the contemporary quartet sound. Pushing the music away from the traditional repertoire of jubilees and spirituals towards the visceral, deeply emotional hard gospel style so popular among postwar listeners, the group's innovative arrangements -- they were the first quartet to add a second lead -- and sexually charged presence irrevocably blurred the lines between religious and secular music while becoming...
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