Various Artists: Fire in My Bones: Raw + Rare + Otherworldly African-American Gospel [1944-2007]

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Various Artists: <em>Fire in My Bones: Raw + Rare + Otherworldly African-American Gospel [1944-2007]</em>

No-frills box set captures complex, contradictory nature of classic black gospel

Since the moment sincerity was rendered and reformatted as an entertainment commodity, pop music has wandered away from one vital element: spirituality. The adage goes that early pop simply swapped “God” for “baby,” dulling music’s power to connect on a spiritual level.

More than half-a-century later, Fire in My Bones ambitiously catalogs the age of black gospel music spanning the end of WWII and the ascendancy of rock ’n’ roll, paying special attention to the era’s more neglected sounds.

This is gospel music for even the Jesus-averse, so gritty and genuine that it often seems to emanate from below. The boundary between raw gospel and sanctified blues gets blurrier as congregational recordings are presented alongside solo performances, the street corner alongside the pulpit. Efficiently cited and unwrought with typical box-set aplomb, this three-disc collection is an equally inspirational and informative document of American soul.