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The Greatest Gospels

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Album Review

This collection may indeed be made up of some of gospel music’s greatest tunes, but it isn’t necessarily the greatest set of performances of them by the Golden Gate Quartet. These 15 selections, which make for about 25 minutes of music on this disc, were taken from very late recordings by the group in the '80s, when the only original member was Clyde Riddick. These are reinterpretations of some of the group’s most memorable recordings of the '30s and '40s. This is not to say that what is here isn’t worth listening to — it is — but it is important to hold this German label to a standard of truth in advertising. The later group still stayed very close to the founding spirit of the GGQ, performing these classic quartet favorites in their unique style that embraced the influences of the Mills Brothers, vocal jazz, and pop performed in the '30s. The price on this set is attractive, and the music is well-performed, if not the genuine article.


Formed: 1931 in Berkeley, VA

Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Pioneer Virginia gospel/pop quartet of the '30s and '40s. Calling their innovative approach to sacred hymns "jubilee" singing, the Golden Gate Quartet, propelled by Willie Johnson and William Langford, enjoyed massive acceptance far outside the church. Their smooth Mills Brothers-influenced harmonies made the Gates naturals for pop crossover success, and they began recording for Victor in 1937. National radio broadcasts and an appearance on John Hammond's 1938 "Spirituals to Swing" concert at Carnegie...
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