The Mighty Clouds of Joy
It Was You

Througout their storied history, The Mighty Clouds of Joy have never shied away from exploration and innovation. That characteristic is never more evident than on It Was You, their first album under the CGI / Platinum banner.

While previous experiments have centered around choreography, fashion, the addition of electric instruments and vocal collaborations, this time out the laboratory has been in the production room.

Before their large fan base and admirers of their traditional quartet vocal style start to nervously sweat, let them quickly be reassured that the Clouds continue to deliver their fair share of familiarMighty Clouds of Joy CD churchy, rootsy vocals. Songs such as “I Know I Got Religion” and “Walk With Me” not only bring some well-known lyrics to the fore, but with lead singer and founding member Joe Ligon on production (bringing his famed traditional quartet sound to the mix), cuts such as these are bound to rise as favorites among quartet heads. Producer/songwriter Steven Ford also lays his hand to some fine mellow, traditional cuts on the project, including the title song, which was written by Platinum's VP Gospel, Jeff Hargrove.

Where the surprise comes is the pool of production talent assigned to tackle the remaining cuts on the album —J.Moss and Paul Allen (PAJAM), Fred Hammond and William Becton. These are some of the hottest names in the Gospel industry, and most associate them with the emergence of new school Gospel sounds from urban artists. Considering the penchant that The Clouds have developed for venturing into new areas over the years, it could be argued that the surprise of this CD revolves more around these producers’ decision to venture into the traditional realm, than in The Clouds stepping into the contemporary arena.

Experiments, by definition, do not always succeed, and there are degrees of success present here, with some tracks working better than others. Fred Hammond’s work on “God Is, Yes My God Is” is a rousing triumph, with band work from Fred’s crew (Noel Jones, Marvin McQuitty and Tommy Walker) meshing seamlessly with The Clouds’ vocals. “Just Believe He Loves You (Very Much)” is another enjoyable Fred-produced number. All three of Hammond’s production contibutions bring his recognizable, but hard-to-define feel to the table.

PAJAM’s handling of the encouraging “Never Say” demonstrates the duo’s obvious capability to step into traditional shoes, as they pare down instrumentally and a focus on Ligon’s lead. J. Moss also steps in admirably in a backing vocal capacity. PAJAM’s other contribution, “Miracle” isn’t quite as successful, as the marriage of the hype rhythm track with the old-school quartet harmonies never quite gets off the ground.

Becton’s ad libs and crackling vinyl-sound-overlays on the sole cut he produces (“No One Can Separate Me”) is worth a listen, as the mid-tempo cut takes on a retro/soul sound that requires more than a couple spins to appreciate.

With a variety of sounds, this album appeals to those who enjoy both old and new Gospel flavas, and is a definite must-listen for those who are curious to how different production styles can impact on one group’s sound.

Producers: Steven Ford, PAJAM, Fred Hammond, Joe Ligon, William Becton
album release date: October 16, 1999
CGI Platinum

— reviewed by Stan North

  All content in GospelFlava © copyright 1999. Any information reprinted
or broadcast from this site must be credited to GospelFlava.com

New Releases
Message Board