Bill Allen & The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio
You Got Me
For this month's independent review we take a look at one of the Quartet Industry's Legendary and most respected groups. Though the group has been ridden with personnel changes the tradition remains the same. Many fans of this group will remember them for their three punch combination of Bob Washington, Paul Arnold and the sky high falsetto of Rev. Charles Mclain. Though those days are past and gone senior member Bill Allen is still keeping the Gospelaires tradition alive.
This release falls on the heals of their vastly popular return to the quartet recording industry entitled "Be With Me Jesus" on the Gospel Jubilee label a few years ago. With the fact that this project is so new it is hard to tell if it will have the same impact. However, with a touch of something new and old each fan is given something to satisfy their musical tastes. Truthfully speaking this project falls right in line with the Gospelaires style of recording during the late 70s and early 80s. While their albums did not have quite the same Hit potential as their 60s Peacock recordings they did offer more of a variety.
This 10 track project is packed with great selections but as is the case with most older groups the real hits are those songs which were hits before. While the title track seems to be a borderline attempt at contemporary gospel the rest of the project makes up in content. In much the same tradition of the Gospelaires of old Bill Allen has a powerful second lead singer in the personage of Rev. Gene Toon. Many might remember Rev. Toon from his recent recordings with Rev. Spann & The Brooklyn Allstars and also Bill Pinkney's Drifters. On this project he plays the very important role of the late Bob Washington. His powerful screaming voice can be heard on all of the classic selections re-recorded on this release.
Songs of note include the classic "I Will Trust In The Lord" with Rev. Toon taking the lead duties. All that can really be said about this one is classic Gospelaires. As the tension of the selection builds the background raises to a screaming falsetto praise which leaves the listener gasping in disbelief. The selection that follows is nothing short of good old foot tappin' quartet singing. "Hold Me" once again lead by the sreamin' voice of Rev. Toon is literally this current group's bread and butter song. Having recently had the opportunity to see them sing this song "Live" these guys allowed the Lord to have His way and the song lasting for an unprecedented 15 minutes. With definite sadness in heart Bill Allen pays tribute to his good friend the late Robert Blair of the Violinaires. The selection he uses is a gentle merging of sermonette and revival like praise selection. The song begins with Allen and Toon dueling it out on a soul stirring version of "I'll Fly Away" which merges into a story of a conversation Bill had with Dad Blair. As if the song could not get any better Bill leads the Gospelaires in a beautiful remake of Blair's favorite song "Trying To Get Ready". The only problem is it only lasts for a disappointing four minutes.
The second half of the project takes us back to the glory days of the 1960s. Rev. Toon leads the group in the classic "Somebody Touched Me". I could almost see Bob Washington slicing his hand through the air as the entire group jumped to the beat. This is by far one of the best cuts on this project shining through with falsetto splendor. While that selection is sure to have you out on the floor praising the Lord Bill Allen's "Everything" is sure to remind any Gospelaire fan of the many slow ballads that made them one of the most versatile groups on the road. This somber song of praise opens with the soft chorus of the Gospelaires singing "If it Wasn't For The Lord What Could I Do". Complete plenty of blues like runs this selection falls right in the tradition of Gospelaire hits such as "Just Faith". Though there are many other great songs on this project it would not be right to end this review without mentioning their remake of definitely one of the most well known Gospelaire selections "Rest For The Weary". Rev. Toon once again sings this song in much the same fashion of the house wreckin' Paul Arnold. For those who remember Brother Arnold then you know that that means plenty of shoutin' and perfect diction and usage of time in between the group's runs.
As always it is good to see our Legendary quartet group's carrying on and recording quality music. This project is yet another chapter in the almost 60 years of singing of Gospelaires recording history. Though, I do have to say the project is missing the lead singing of a falsetto singer in the tradition of Charles McLain it is a decent offering. If you like good quartet gospel than must have this new offering from Bill Allen & The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio. To obtain this CD you can visit your local record store or call Bill Allen at (305) 835-8038. I give Bill Allen & The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio "You Got Me" a 8 out of 10!!