Various Artists
Mighty Day: 25 Gospel Greats

The Bessemer Sunset Four is hardly the first quartet that comes to mind when you list the popular old-time quartets. The Golden Gate Quartet, The Mississippi Blind Boys —maybe. But it's probable that few even know where Bessemer is located, let alone be able to name even one of their hits.

That may very well change with Mighty Day: 25 Gospel Greats. The 25-song compilation from UK archival music specialists, Document Records, was issued as a result of the CD inclusion of the quartet’s close harmony song, “Mighty Day”, on the soundtrack to the 2005 Jim Carrey crime comedy, Fun With Dick and Jane. What better impetus to show the world what else Document has to offer?

The album is but a taste of the riches the label has available. From Rev. Kelsey’s sermon-fired church chant, “I’m A Witness For My Lord” to the Cornfed Four’s compelling “Let The Church Roll Out”, complete with syncopated inserts of silence, there’s lots to feed on.

Sister Goldie Haynes brings her pounding piano with her on the slow, bluesy, “I’m Going To Hold On”. Contrasting that is her “The Truth In The Gospel”, which rollicks along with barrelhouse piano and percussive shakers as she joyously singers of salvation.

Other cuts of note are Brother Miller & The Milleraires, who deliver a large and passionate “J-E-S-U-S Spells Jesus”, complete with locomotive effects, and Rev. Robert Ballinger (read feature) who rails on the popular “This Train”.

Familiar artists such as The Golden Gate Quartet and Sister Ernestine Washington are represented, as are Rev. Utah Smith with his famed guitar-blessed “Two Wings”, Elder Charles Beck on “Didn’t It Rain” and Sister Rosetta Tharpe on “My Journey To The Sky”. Thomas Dorsey on his early “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again”, complete with rhythmic ride and ad lib vocal accompaniment is a joy to the ear.

Selections from Anthony Butler, The Blue Chips, Sister Lottie Peavey and Mary Deloatch among others round out his tantalizing sampler of early Gospel.

Not making Mighty Day yours would be a mistake.

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Producer: Gary Atkinson
album release date: February, 2006
Document Records

— reviewed by Stan North

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