The Sons Of Truth – 1972 – A Message From The Ghetto
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The Sons Of Truth album is by far the most sought-after on Stax’s Gospel Truth subsidiary. Formed by Calvin Fair in Detroit – who went on to form Gospel Unlimited – they were very much of their time. The music they made was a frenetic mix of contemporary funk and soul mixed in with the words of the Lord.
Produced by gospel producer Dave Clark, cuts such as The Deacon and I Don’t Know Where We’re Headed are starting to pick up plays in progressive soul clubs. Copies of the LP have started to change hands for over £100.
The Sons of Truth put out this album on Stax’s subsidiary Gospel Truth in 1972, but it remains rare to the point of being nearly unknown, despite its affiliation with one of soul’s most prominent labels. AsDean Rudland’s historical liner notes to the 2010 CD reissue on Beat Goes Public rightly observe, it was an “album filled with funk and soul with a gospel edge, rather than the other way around.” But while musically this is for the most part a funk-soul hybrid, lyrically it’s very much in the religious gospel stream, as titles such as “God Help Us All“, “With Jesus You’re Free“, “Call on Him“, “He’s All We Need” and “God Bless the Children” make clear. The title of the album, as well as the cover showing a very hip-looking bunch of dudes in a dilapidated inner city environment, might lead you to expect something a little more political than what the album actually delivers.
It’s still an interesting blend of gospel with the steamy funk that was fast becoming a big soul trend in the early ’70s, especially in the opening cut, “Son of the Deacon“, a slow groover powered by a smoky fuzz guitar riff and smoldering female backup vocals. Nothing else on the album matches it, alas, but this has far more appeal to secular soul and rock fans than most gospel records that strive to incorporate contemporary sounds. The rabble-rousing “I Feel Good” has some cooking wah-wah guitar, and “The Ghetto” does come up with some of the observations of ghetto life reflected by the packaging. Elsewhere, the group get into some more traditional smooth male vocal harmonizing and material akin to soul ballads, though even so, the fuzzy and distorted guitar lines let you know these guys were listening to plenty of sounds cooking in rock and soul music outside of the mainstream gospel world.