Live At Azusa III
Bishop Carlton Pearson resurfaces on the new Gospel
division of Atlantic Records with Live at Azusa
III. This project was delayed somewhat by last year’s
unexpected shutdown of the Warner Gospel label, but
no matter. This third helping of this series still comes
piping hot and spiced with high prominence Gospel cameos
from all over. Producer: Dan Cleary
album release date: September 21, 1999
Not messing with the successful recipe which brought acclaim
to the first two albums,
Pearson once again serves up a
fresh mix of old churchy favorites presented in new arrangements.
The concert setting is before a ready congregation at
Oral Roberts University, with an absolutely capable
350 voice choir backing things up.
Beverly Crawford sets the tone for the entire
album with a couple of to-the-bone traditional uptempo
cuts (“He Lives” and “Walk With Me”). As the album’s
twelve cuts unfold, Pearson alternately sings and
introduces the lead vocals of
Bishop James Morton,
Joshua Nelson and Mickey Mangun, with Nelson’s
very Mahalia-esque version of “How I Got Over” causing
ears to bend in incredulity.
Make a note of the interludes included within the mix
of songs. While there are no surprises with the spoken
word segments of Pearson recalling some of the saints
he grew up with, the first track on the album is an interlude of a different sort, and is perhaps the first
dramatic skit to appear on a traditional
album. Check it out.
Also notable is the appearance of Marvin Winans on
“Just A Closer Walk With Thee”, who joins with Pearson
in duet on this universally known hymn. It’s nothing short
of a Gospel travesty that this gem of a combo lasts only
a little over two minutes. If there was ever a song worthy
of a 9-minute marathon, then surely this would be it.
Write a letter to your congressman.
To finish the work, Fred Hammond steps in. With
an appropriately gritty voice for a traditional album,
and with Radical for Christ in tow, he melds his
inimitable style to “Jesus Be A Fence”. He does honor
to the old song, and it works.
Remember, if you’re planning to help yourself to this one, don’t
forget to buy an extra tambourine. Because a couple spins of
this album will quickly wear out the one you have now.
reviewed by Stan North —
in GospelFlava © copyright 1999. Any information reprinted
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