The Mighty Clouds of Joy
are one of the best respected and most influential groups in African-American gospel music, though that wasn't always the case; their introduction of R&B-flavored instrumentation and showmanship into gospel spawned no small amount of controversy as they were on the rise in the 1960s, though years later their approach has been thoroughly integrated into the mainstream of gospel, and they're still filling audiences with the spirit as they continue to perform across the nation in the 21st century. Like many pop and R&B acts who've had a long and successful run, the Mighty Clouds of Joy
have recorded for enough record companies that compiling a definitive career-spanning collection would be legally difficult, and 50 Year Celebration
(which actually arrives 52 years after the group was formed) is comprised of relatively recent performances, with live recordings standing in for the original studio takes of several classic numbers. But most gospel artists are at their best in front of a live audience ready to share their message, and this collection certainly demonstrates what the Mighty Clouds of Joy
do so well, with Joe Ligon
's lead vocals sounding consistently powerful and deeply felt throughout, and his various accompanists giving him strong support as they perform time-honored spirituals such as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "I Know I've Been Changed" as well as newer numbers like "Jesus Kind of Man" and "Jesus Will Turn It Around." 50 Year Celebration
presents close to 80 minutes of powerful, soul-stirring music from one of the truly legendary acts in gospel music, and if it isn't the comprehensive career overview the title suggests (and this group surely deserves), it's a reminder of where the Mighty Clouds of Joy
have been, where they are today, and where they're going as they continue to raise the roof in the name of the Lord.