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The Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet: Rock My Soul

The Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet: Rock My Soul

Label:Living Era
Release Date:2007

By Michaelangelo Matos | Posted 9/5/2007

Just because gospel is the root of rhythm and blues doesn't necessarily mean that it sounds like rhythm and blues. But if to modern ears the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet is easy to hear as a classic early R&B group, give or take the Bible-centric subject matter, that's because, in some ways, it was. The Virginia foursome made themselves one of the biggest crossover acts of the late 1930s and '40s by adapting the loose swing and trick vocal effects that had been popularized by the Mills Brothers earlier in the '30s.

On Rock My Soul, especially with the early material, it isn't at all difficult to understand why the group made it so big in secular circles. The Quartet's harmonies are consistently surprising (the middle sections of "Stand in the Test of Judgment"), the rhythms jumped hard (doubly impressive given that the Golden Gate recorded a cappella), and the four imitated musical instruments (check the trumpet they slide into faking during "Gabriel Blows His Horn"). You might be tempted to call the Quartet a novelty act if it wasn't for the fact that Jesus was no novelty to this group. But they were never afraid of tricking things up, which is one reason these sides retain their spark. That and the fact that even when the four play it straight, as on the slow and serious "Take Your Burdens to God," sung by bass man Orlando Wilson, they're a hell of a singing group.

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