OVERDOSE OF THE HOLY GHOST-COMPILED BY DAVID HILL.

OVERDOSE OF THE HOLY GHOST-COMPILED BY DAVID HILL

Sometimes, compilations can be anodyne affairs, with record labels and compilers scared to release compilations of innovative, leftfield music. This results in labels playing it safe and releasing compilations that although not innovative, will pay the bills. Thankfully, there are some labels out their willing to release innovative compilations of music that far too often, is overlooked. One musical genre that’s often overlooked is gospel music. It’s been a long time since a record company released a quality gospel compilation. Thankfully, Joey Negro’s ZR Records have rectified this.

ZR Records’ latest compilation Overdose Of The Holy Ghost, which was compiled by David Hill and was released on 22nd April 2013, features music from one of the most overlooked musical genres…gospel. Gospel music has had a huge influence on modern music. Blues, country and soul music have all been influenced by gospel music. 

The church’s influence in soul music can’t be underestimated. Call and response and harmonies have their roots in gospel music. They’ve gone on to influence numerous musical genres, including everything from house, disco and garage. So, given the importance gospel music has played in the development of modern music, it’s surprising that there haven’t been more gospel compilations released? Maybe record companies fear that a compilation of gospel music wouldn’t be a commercial success? Thankfully, ZR Records have cast aside this fear and have released a double album featuring twenty-four tracks entitled Overdose Of The Holy Ghost, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

DISC ONE.

Gospel music is no different to any other musical genre. It evolves over time, often reflecting wider musical fashions. Musical genres like soul, funk and even disco and boogie have influenced gospel music. For newcomers to gospel music, this will come as something of a surprise. Indeed, the music on Disc One of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost, might dispel some myths about gospel music and maybe, will over new fans. To help change people’s perception about gospel music.

My first choice from Disc One of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost is The Clark SIsters’ Overdose Of The Holy Ghost. This was a track from their 1981 sophomore album You Brought The Sunshine. It was released on the Sound Of Gospel label and was the followup to 1976s Unworthy. So good is this powerful, emotive fusion of gospel, soul and funk that even if you’re not a fan of gospel music, this will make a believer of you. No wonder, with vocals and harmonies this good.

Shirley Caesar’s Heavenly Father was a track from her 1978 album From The Heart. Released on the Roadshow label, this track shows a very different side to gospel music. With layers of lush strings, blazing horns and a pulsating beat, there’s a real disco influence while Shirley gives thanks in a style where soul and gospel unite. Quite simply, a stunning gospel track.

D.J Rogers released his debut album Hope Songs Volume 1 in 1982. Released on Hope Song Records and Tapes, it featured All I Gave Him Was My Heart. Here, the focus of your attention are D.J’s vocal and the harmonies. The arrangement merges into the background, as you’re captivated by the pleading vocal. D.J’s vocal is dripping in emotion and sincerity and accompanied by sweeping, soaring and punchy harmonies. The result is one of the best vocals on Disc One of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost, from a singer who could easily have enjoyed a successful career in soul music.

Linda Evans career in music started when she sang backing vocals for Margie Joseph and Johnny Bristol. She then released her debut album You Control Me in 1979. It featured the hit single Don’t You Need. Five years later, Linda released her sophomore album Linda Evans in 1984. This was a gospel album, which featured I Am Gold, an uptempo, soulful and dance-floor friendly song. Although very different from the music on her debut album, I Am Gold has one thing in common…its quality.

Norman Weeks and The Revelations’ Hold On is my final choice from Disc One of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost. Hold On was released as an E.P. in 2006 on Germany’s Sonar Kollektiv lablel. Written and produced by Norman, this track has a real contemporary sound. Elements of soul, funk and house music combine, creating another side to gospel music.

One thing the five tracks I’ve chosen from Disc One of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost demonstrate, is how eclectic gospel music is. There more than one type of gospel music. Indeed, changes in musical fashions have resulted in sub-genres of gospel developing. So, gospel encompasses soul, funk, disco, boogie and house music. Many of the artists I’ve told you about, including Shirley Caesar, D.J Rogers and Linda Evans could’ve enjoyed successful careers in secular music. They sacrificed potential critical acclaim and commercial success for their  religious beliefs. Many people will admire them for that. 

Although I’ve only mentioned five tracks, the quality continues on much of Disc One. It’s like an introduction to gospel music over the past thirty years. Hopefully, given the quality of music on Disc One of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost, the quality will continue on Disc Two of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost. Maybe then, gospel will have won over any new fans?

DISC TWO.

Just like Disc One, Disc Two of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost features another twelve tracks. Compiler Dave Hill has dug deep in his quest to come up with a dozen potential gospel gems. They’re an eclectic selection of tracks, that demonstrate just how broad a church gospel music is. You realize this when I tell you about Disc Two of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost.

Roslyn and Charles’ Was Not Intended is my first choice from Disc Two of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost. This is a track from their 1981 debut album Everything Must Change. Released on Cherri Records, this was the first of two albums they released. It’s a fusion of soul, gospel, funk and boogie with an uplifting, irresistible and delicious hook-laden sound. Simply, stunning.

In 1980, The Dynamic Clark SIsters with Mattie Moss released an album entitled Is My Living In Vein. One of the tracks on Is My Living In Vein is Ha Ya (Eternal Life). This is a dramatic, rousing gospel track where The Clark Sisters demonstrates their considerable vocal prowess, accompanied by just a piano.

Sharon Johnson’s recording career began back in 1973, when she released her debut album Sharon. Eleven years later in 1984, Sharon released A Better Day on Tyscot Records. The title-track A Better Day features on Disc Two of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost. It has a quintessentially eighties arrangement. Quite simply, it couldn’t have been recorded any other decade However, what saves the track are Sharon’s powerful, impassioned vocal and the dramatic, soaring gospel harmonies.

BeBe and CeCe WInans’ recording career began back in 1984, when they released their debut album Lord Lift Us Up. It was released on the PTL Club Records and Tapes label. The Benjamin Winans’ penned I Really Love You opened SIde Two of Lord Lift Us Up. Straight away, it’s reminiscent of Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes’ Up Where We Belong. Having said that it’s one of the highlights of Disc Two. Slow, soulful and featuring vocals that are tender and heartfelt, the understated arrangement compliments Bebe and Cece’s vocal on this beautiful track.

The final track I’ve chosen from Disc Two of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost is one by Rahni Harris and Family Love. He’s My Friend was a track from the 1977 album A Different Drummer, which was released on the Emprise label. With an understated arrangement, you can’t help but focus on Rahni’s vocal. It’s sincere, heartfelt and accompanied by just a piano. Then the arrangement decides to reveal its secrets. Although it doesn’t quite swing, hooks and happiness are ever-present as soul, jazz, gospel and funk unite.

Like Disc One, Disc Two of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost features the different sub-genres that make up gospel. These sub-genres have been influenced by many musical genres and influences.There’s every influence from boogie, disco, funk, house, jazz and soul on Disc Two, proving that it’s impossible to pigeonhole gospel music. Indeed, there’s much more to gospel than meets the eye. An equally eclectic selection of music features on Disc Two of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost. Similarly, the quality that was consistent on Disc One continues on Disc Two. Having wondered if the quality would continue on Disc Two of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost, I’m pleased to say that that’s the case.

Finally, I hope that Overdose Of The Holy Ghost will be the first in a series of gospel compilations ZR Records will release. There’s a real lack of quality modern gospel compilations. Compilations like Overdose Of The Holy Ghost will rectify this. It’ll also show newcomers to gospel music that there’s much more to gospel music than they first thought. Credit must go to David Hill and ZR Records for releasing Overdose Of The Holy Ghost. Their decision to release such an innovative and  eclectic compilation of contemporary gospel music, like Overdose Of The Holy Ghost is a brave one, one I hope pays off for them. Standout Tracks: The Clark SIsters Overdose Of The Holy Ghost, Shirley Caesar’s Heavenly Father, Roslyn and Charles Was Not Intended and BeBe and CeCe WInans Lord Lift Us Up.

OVERDOSE OF THE HOLY GHOST-COMPILED BY DAVID HILL.


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