Blues and gospel music are two sides of the same coin, yet while the passion and intensity of the blues informs much of gospel, it's relatively rare to find the reverse, gospel themes grafted onto blues grooves.
The Blud Brothers, who describe theirs as "music from the heart for the soul," do just that. Not that they limit themselves to twelve-bar convention; they're quick to incorporate funk and rock into their sound.
Does it work? Well, musically things are entirely acceptable, with performances adequate if not exactly remarkable. Leader Al (Large Al) Harvey's guitar work is simple yet effective, while Roscoe Hoffman's keys, in particular the moody organ that underpins much here, is exemplary.
Mr. Harvey sings with what can best be described as earnest sincerity; he'd never make it as a blues singer in the secular world (there's just no menace, an utterly essential component elsewhere, in his voice), but given the presumed audience for this material, he may be ideally suited for the band's sunny approach to life's problems; when one's faith is as strong as theirs so obviously is, there's no despair too deep, no darkness that can't be overcome. And that faith, that indomitable optimism, comes through loud and clear in Al's vocal work.
But for all the musical accomplishment on display here, the appeal is limited by the relentlessly religious themes prevalent throughout. Despite claims that they'd never attempt to impose their views on others, there's something preachy, almost smugly self-satisfied, in the disc's lyrical content. Even the Jagger/Richards chestnut, "Sympathy For The Devil" is given a curiously third-person interpretation that robs the tune of all it's threat; with the Blud Brother's added coda, it becomes a testament to the power of light, the triumph of good. As a result, I can't see any but the firmly committed finding much satisfaction here.
If you're a believer, "Not What You Think" is a good outing. If your tastes lean to a bit more balanced picture of the battle between good and . . . well, the blues and all it represents - you'll find greater satisfactions elsewhere.
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