The Dixie Hummingbirds
Music in the Air (Platinum Entertainment)
By: Alex Steininger
Celebrating their 70th anniversary with the release of a new album, MUSIC IN THE AIR (House of Blues/Platinum Entertainment), the leaders in gospel music, The Dixie Hummingbirds, once again create the finest gospel known to man. Inviting several friends on as guest musicians, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Wynonna Judd, Deniece Williams, Isaac Hayes, Bobby Womack, Mavis Staples, Vickie Winans, Shirley Caesar, and Howard Hewitt all make appearances that further the spiritual, emotional, and vibrant feel of the music.
Isaac Hayes starts everything off with a splendid introduction that leads the listener straight into "Jesus Is Still Alive," a momentous gospel number with the tremendous vocal harmonies that have made the "birds" the gospel act for the past seventy years. Of course, sticking it out for seventy years will win you enough respect, but the band furthers it even more with great music that is as timeless as it is precious.
"Loves Me Like A Rock," a Paul Simon classic in which The Dixie Hummingbirds originally sang backing vocals on, finds Paul Simon and The Dixie Hummingbirds working together to make this a soulful gospel number that will touch you right in the soul and electrify you with love. Solos by Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and Ira Tucker, Sr. also make this one of the highest among highs on this album.
"Come Ye Disconsolate" is a tender gospel love ballad that is as rich and energetic as their more up tempo numbers; but this time they slow things down a bit to make your fever reach a boiling point with the soft, smoky vibes that run ramped throughout the music. The delicate harmonies fall into place, as always, and the soft rhythm section gently struts throughout the music. The tingling, ticklish sway of the guitar also enriches the music, giving you the entire package that shoots straight to your heart and makes you feel the love and dedication the band puts into every note.
"Good Health" heats things up a bit with a juicier, meatier rhythm section that beats in the background while the smoky vocals calmly enlighten and lift your spirits with simply mesmerizing ambitions. Never once do they lose you; they always have you connected to them as you feel and live the music in your body, mind, and heart.
"Everything Is Alright," one of my favorite tracks on this album, is your common church gospel number that you often see in the movies all the time; everyone is up and out of their pews singing and swaying while the choir has everyone sweating with their hot, soulful sounds. The rock influences are there, especially in the rhythm section, while the vocals keep the gospel and love of Jesus Christ alive. Here is music for your soul; it is filled with love, hope, and nothing but good. You can't help but sit back and feel better as the music warms you up from every way imaginable.
Ending with an A Cappella number, if you weren't convinced before, you'll be blown away at the talent, mesmerizing nature, and sheer enjoyable-ness of The Dixie Hummingbirds' voices and attention to detail. Nothing out of place; everything clean and warm. They prove to be the ideal group that, much like wine, gets better with age. Here is a shining example of a musical group.
Seventy years is quite the achievement, but so is putting out a disc this amazing after seventy years. If you're looking for the best gospel around, need something to lift your spirits, or want a fine record, here is the disc for your soul. I'll give it an A+.