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World Music CD Reviews North American

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By Michael Stone
Published February 17, 2006

SECOND SACRED STEEL CONVENTION
Arhoolie

The electric steel guitar may seem an unlikely centerpiece for African-American gospel, but its growling, sliding, screaming sound and resonance with the human voice so captivated congregants that the House of God, Keith Dominion and the Church of the Living God, Jewell Dominion integrated it into worship services beginning in the 1930s. Four generations of musicianship have energized a tradition extending today from Florida to Georgia, Tennessee, New Jersey, New York and Washington State. This title captures all the vitality and audience interaction of live performance, with sacred steel's most talented, fervent performers. Highlights include "Brother," Sam Baldwin's shouting, celebratory "Where Could I Go But To The Lord?," with the Campbell Brothers lap and pedal steel duet; Robert Randolph and the Family Band's staggering reinterpretation of Fred McDowell's signature "You've Got To Move" (they've also played with the North Mississippi All-Stars); Reggie "Footie" Covington's "Footie's Medley" (wherein the Pink Panther goes gospel, to hear is to believe); and female lap-steel pioneer Lisa Lang's astonishing call-and-response with singer Otis Thames ("What Is This?"). Sacred roots blues at their finest.