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The Blues Foundation's 1999 "Keeping the Blues Alive Award"
Sacred Steel Instrumentals
Arhoolie Records (CD 515)
Review Date: November 2009
by Dick Houff
You really don’t have to be a fan of gospel music in order to enjoy this wonderful compilation by the best of the Sacred Steel guitar tradition. The music itself was relatively unknown outside the church until 1995. Things have changed since then, and there have been nine CDs released thus far from Arhoolie. Perhaps you’ve read past reviews from my pen of “The Campbell Brothers” and the people that make up Sacred Steel. To hear the many different slide styles of pedal steel guitar on this offering is just mind boggling. From traditional blues and jazz to contemporary, it’s all hear. The beauty of making a slide sing without the usual fretting is truly wonderful. Check out Aubrey Ghent’s single string slide voicings—amazing! Next, listen to the haunted rendition of track 5: “ I Need Thee” by Rayfield “Ray Ray” Holloman. Some real classic gems show up that most people are familiar with—such as: Just A Closer Walk With Thee / Will The Circle Be Unbroken / and When The Saints Go Marching In. I personally believe that the next four years is either going to make or break us. We live in troubled times and this music helps take some of the edge off.
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