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Spiritual EP, #1
Label: Northern Records
Length: 6 tracks, 19:06
OK, kids, get out your scorecards. It's time to play the Cush game again! Run out and get what is billed as the first of three EPs of spirituals from a rather fluid group of guys (and gals) that record under the name of Cush.
Every time this band puts out a new disc, Internet discussion boards are all atwitter with talk of "Who sang track one?" or "Is that so and so on the last song?" And this new EP is no different.
The good news is that this disc is simply wonderful. The bad news is that if you're looking for answers of who sang on which song, you're out of luck. I have those answers, and I don't mean to be a smarty-pants, but out of respect for what the label and Cush are trying to do, you're not gonna get them here. Suffice it to say that this current effort from Cush consists of some of the usual suspects and some newer ones from the Northern Records extended family. Some of them are more obvious than others.
The album consists of modern interpretations of spirituals, some old, some not so old. The disc kicks off with a very cool and rollicking version of the old 19th century Negro spiritual "Run, Mary, Run," followed by a more mellow southern gospel standard, "My God is Real," complete with beautiful female lead vocals over some nice strumming.
Third up is a nice peaceful group sing-a-long of "We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace," and then a very sparse rendition of "Nobody Knows the Trouble I See." (If you can't guess who this is, check your pulse and clean your ears!).
The project wraps up with two of the hipper songs on the disc. A call and response version of "Sign of the Judgment" (made famous by W.C. Handy) that sounds like something Moby would have used on one of his more recent recordings. And finally, one of the more modern "spirituals" on the disc, a neat version of "I Would Die 4 U," written by The Artist Once Again Known As Prince, and sung in a Dylan-esque style by one of the future stars of the music scene, complete with accompaniment on acoustic guitar, keyboard, and typewriter.
My only gripe is that it's too short. Why three EPs of spirituals, rather than one full disc? No sooner do I pop this one in the CD player, sit back, and relax, then BOOM... it's over. Hey gang, there's no such thing as too much of a good thing!
So if you like the previous releases from Cush, then you will certainly love this disc. Don't buy it because good ol' Whatshisname sings track four. Buy it because Cush is hip/def/phat/groovy (or insert slang term of your choice). And buy it because Cush is one of the best things going on the music scene right now. End of discussion. Now go play the home version of the Cush game.
Ken Mueller 9/22/02