The Gospel According to Austin, TX (Kick Butt Gospel/107.1 KGSR)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., June 30, 2000
The Gospel According to Austin, TX
(Kick Butt Gospel/107.1 KGSR)If The Gospel According to Austin, TX is any indication, the Texas State Capitol is first and foremost Catholic. In its laudable, all-inclusive musical nature, this 16-track collection of local acts singing the praises of Christianity is blind to race, creed, and color. In terms of harmony, however -- quality, consistency, and overall flow -- Gospel is strictly Ray Charles: sight-free. Beginning this overly long service with storied Austin soulman Malford Milligan and guitar journeyman Stephen Bruton on Sam Cooke's immortal "Touch the Hem of His Garment," Gospel starts off strong, seguing twangfully into Billy Joe Shaver's "You Just Can't Beat Jesus Christ," taken from his 1998 LP, Victory. The Bells of Joy lend their glorious Eastside legacy next with "Search Me Lord," from their recent Second Time Around, followed by fellow East Austin legend Ruben Ramos' scabrous Tejano take on Kris Kristofferson's "One Day at a Time," and if that transition is just a tad raw, more so is Johnny Nicholas' Son House rewrite "John the Revelator" giving way to Don Walser's "Heavenly Band." Although Don Walser is God (or at least a close personal friend), this particular take on the 50-year-old country original does not seem to have been "the one," and while following a hardcore folk song probably seemed like a good idea on parchment, on Gospel, it hitches. Guy Forsyth's masterful duet with his singing saw on "Master's Call" is quickly swept asunder by Austin's Gospel Stars, who, like the Bells of Joy, summon such a traditional fervor that it raises the question of why you're not listening to a Peacock gospel classic instead. Lisa Tingle's "Amazing Grace" is quite ordinary, as is local "hidden treasure" the Kyle Family's "Wayfaring Stranger." Larry Gatlin's Nashvillian "Hey You" might just be the album track that most tests your faith. The Gospel According to Austin, TX -- not the last Word.