Over the years, Sherman and Wendell Holmes, along with Popsy Dixon have developed a unique musical style that blends sacred (gospel) and secular (blues) music into a sweet sounding musical voice that is guaranteed to lift anyone's spirit. Since The Holmes Brothers 1990 release of In The Spirit, they have provided sweet relief to audiences world wide with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Joan Osborne among their most ardent fans. The versatility of The Holmes Brothers and the universal sound of their music has made them extremely popular on various festival circuits including folk, blues, jazz and gospel.
The Holmes Brothers latest release on Rounder Records is called Righteous! The Essential Collection, a compilation of their "best" recordings for Rounder Records. The CD covers the full range of the group's efforts from straight ahead gospel ("I Surrender All") to R+B (Please Don't Hurt Me") to bluesy ("Fannie Mae"), all the way to the group's own rendition of The Beatles classic "And I Love Her". The 17-song CD is sure to include something for everyone, providing a shining example of why The Holmes Brothers have become so universally popular worldwide. At times, the sounds invoked by The Holmes Brothers, bring to mind another "brothers" group from the late 60's and early 70's, The Chambers Brothers. Both bands' histories include experience in gospel music combined with elements of soul, blues, funk and rock n' roll. This comparison is particularly noticeable on The Holmes Brothers' "The Final Round" which is very reminiscent of The Chambers Brothers' classic "I Can't Stand It".
Righteous! The Essential Collection opens with a funk laced tune, "Got Myself Together" from the 1997 release, Promised Land. The cut includes some nice guitar work my Wendell Holmes and is a high energy start to the CD. Lovers of The Holmes Brothers more secular side will also enjoy the bluesy "New and Improved Me" with its Jimmy Reed style underpinnings; the upbeat "Fannie Mae"; and the "altered state" feeling created by the slide guitar foundations of "Dashboard Bar." On the sacred side, the choice are also numerous and include hymns like "I Surrender All," "None But The Righteous" and "Walk In The Light"; the gospel sounds of "There's A Train" and "Promised Land"; and the almost religious lament of Tom Wait's "The Train." The feeling generated by "The Train" made it one of my favorites on this CD and when it appeared on Promised Land.
My two absolute favorites on the CD are "The Final Round" from the 1990 release, In The Spirit, again because of the similarities to The Chambers Brothers and the stellar rendition of "And I Love Her" from Promised Land (which is apparently one of my favorite Holmes Brothers CDs). "And I Love Her" gives a new feeling to The Beatles' classic without giving it a dramatic make over.
For the music fan who is not familiar with The Holmes Brothers, Righteous! The Essential Collection provides a great cross section of the groups material, complete with great harmonies, catchy lyrics and a wide range of feelings and styles. On the other hand, for the long time Holmes Brothers fan, this is the kind of CD you can pop into your player when you can't decide which of the group's regular CDs you would like to listen to. Either way, you can't really go wrong in picking up this CD. As one fan (my wife) put it "What's not to like about it, I like all of their other CDs and everything on this one is on the others." Who can argue with that?
To pick up a copy of Righteous! The Essential Collection, visit your local recorded music outlet or visit the Rounder Records website at www.rounder.com.
Simply click on the CD cover at left to order this CD NOW!
This review is copyright © 2002 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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