Rance Allen Group: Sanctified (Stax)

THERE DOESN’T exist the vocabulary to do justice to this album. In an age when soul’s countless sub-divisions (sweet soul, sophistisoul, disco music and pop soul) only emphasise the black mainstream’s movement towards music drained of its vitality and bloated with the orchestral flatulence of the middle class good life, along comes an LP that still draws its reason-to-be from spontaneity and truth.

Occasionally, you may find Rance’s religious message naive (‘Thank You Lord’ is lyrically as far removed from Gil Scott Heron as Harriett Beecher-Stowe is from Eldridge Cleaver). While over an entire album length the passionate intensity of Rance’s continual exhortation sometimes smacks of overkill. But careful listening to short sections of this album must leave any listener who REALLY has an ear for the stunning voice of the black music experience uplifted into heights of euphoria.

BM (in our Stax story) tried to describe Rance’s voice, which can soar from the harshest blood-curdling scream to the most stunning of stratospheric soprano notes. Now you can hear it for yourself as it brings new passion to Gamble/Huff’s ‘Showdown’; as it builds to sublime climaxes on ‘God Is Wonderful’; as it glides in feathery falsetto harmony on Whitfield’s ‘Just My Salvation (Imagination)’; as it roars over a joyously rhythmic ‘Hot Line To Jesus’; and as it chills you to the bone on the dope song to end all dope songs ‘See What You Done Done’. Disregard Pye’s absurdly inept packaging, just let the music tell the truth… the whole truth.

© Tony CummingsBlack Music, September 1975

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