The Gospel Angels
I Still Remember
Next Level Publishing (2004)
By Bob Marovich
I Still Remember has been around for more than a decade—it was released the year the Journal of Gospel Music was born, in fact—but this album by the Gospel Angels of Washington, DC, is worth revisiting because it is emblematic of how much musical fun saving souls can be.
First, of the eleven tracks, five are up-tempo selections, more hip-slapping than just about any gospel quartet CD I’ve heard in a long while. One might conclude that the high percentage of “drive tempo” songs is because the album was recorded live. But even live quartet recordings often contain only one or, at the most, two aisle burners. This album has five. “Praise the Lord” is almost athletic in its exhortation to get the congregation standing in corporate thanksgiving.
Second, there is a fine gospel version of the Impressions’ “It’s All Right.” Of course, the song barely needs gospelization in lyric or melody, and it fits snugly in the Gospel Angels’s set list.
Finally, the lyrics are steeped in quartet plain speak. The lessons are straightforward, such as on “No Complaining,” where the group sings that there “ain’t no use in complaining, somebody’s worse than you,” and then offers a litany of circumstances that fall into the “worse” category. When it comes to lyrical content, gospel quartets of yesterday and today are known for not delving too deep into new age religious philosophies but for keeping it real, old church style. The Gospel Angels are no exception.
Quality harmonies and meaty lead singing are the Gospel Angels’s stock-in-trade, and T. C. Hairston’s flights of falsetto and shouting thrill the live recording audience. Curiously, the album art depicts the quartet in something like a scene out of Star Trek, but nevertheless, I Still Remember contains one excellent throwback moment after another.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Praise the Lord,” “I’m Coming Home.”