Resurrection: The Amplified Bible of Heavenly Grooves
Record label: Second Coming (UK)
Format: LP/CD
Release date: September 2001

"This has got to be the coolest gospel record I've ever heard." A statement like that will surely bring a sea of weird looks your way. After all, conventional thinking tells us that the words "gospel" and "cool" don't belong in the same sentence. This compilation could put an end to such beliefs. Presented by Martin Green and Jonny Trunk, Resurrection contains various hip takes on paying homage to the Man Upstairs (all of them recorded during the late '60s-early '70s).

You will find a surf version of "Little Drummer Boy" and a swinging rendition of "Wade In The Water." The best arrangements of traditional hymns are provided by Ted Taylor. Along with Tubby Hayes, Taylor transforms "He Who Would Valient Be" and "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" into jazz numbers with cool breaks prime for sampling. There's also the garage band sounds of The Torchbearers and All Things New. More skeptical types will probably gravitate to "Jesus H. Clown," one of the few selections with an inquisitive tone. "Jesus Is Coming Again" is the exact opposite: upbeat and anticipatory, honest and earnest while gloriously off-key. Folk singer Judy MacKenzie renders two beautiful original tunes, the slightly funky "New Song" and the more somber "Sally Brown," reworking the jubilant theme from "Happiness Is" (of Peanuts fame). There's even a beat poet take on the Nativity scene by Pete Levin and Bill Comeau, Pat Boone reciting a psalm over psychedelic percussion (Negativland sampled this for Helter Stupid), and true confessions from hippies who've given up drugs and other vices in order to take up the cross and follow Him. You don't have to be a believer to know that Resurrection is a great find.

{steve crognale}

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