Various ‘Greg Belson’s Divine Disco – American Gospel Disco (1974-1984)’ 2LP/CD/DIG (Cultures Of Soul) 4/5

greg-belson-divine-discoWe live in a world of excess. I know I don’t need to tell you that.
No more is excess more apparent than with compilation albums. Small labels thrive on comps, because they usually sell well for a relatively small price to put together. And an area where competition between the compilations is at its fiercest is the good ol’ Disco compilation. Everybody loves a little disco, right? Well, you have another to chew over here in the form of Greg Belson’s Devine Disco: Gospel Disco 1974 – 1984
As you can probably work out, this is Disco music from the Gospel side of things and if that makes one or two of you cringe then don’t worry because it is an example of another quality compilation.
Greg Belson is an expert on all things Gospel Soul related and he has curated 15 outstanding tracks of soulful, uplifting music that will have anyone up and dancing.
This set comes as a single CD or double vinyl and features many artists that I must admit to not knowing who they are. But in the larger picture does that matter too much when you’re on a dancefloor or in your lounge or listening on headphones on a bus?

As I said, the disco comp scene is a particularly competitive one with a good few quality compilations and re-edits of classics that have been released over the past few years so anything else that comes along has to ‘muscle in’ on the action and make their mark. This compilation does just that.

We could pick out any song to start with but let’s go with… the first track on the album ‘Faith is the Key’ by Enlightment with its near Shuggie Otis’ ‘Strawberry Letter 23’ signature motif running throughout; the sharp funky bass playing; its perfect strings; its tasty background vocal stabs ably supporting the delightful main vocals.

Shirley Finney’s ‘Give your best to The Master’ is probably the track that sounds most like what you would expect a Gospel/Disco fusion to sound like with its tight gospel vocal backing, strong soaring main vocal from the woman herself and driving disco beat. The song suddenly stops about ¾ of the way through and just breaks down so Ms Finney and co can drive that message home – pure quality!

The Herman Harris & the Voices of Faith, Hope & Love cut ‘Give yourself to Jesus’ is pure Gospel soul and still feels right at home here.

Other highlights here are The Inspirational Souls’ ‘Jesus is Going Away (But he’s coming back Again)’ – an all-male vocal funky disco tune. Think O’Jays with a touch of the Mizell Brothers thrown into the mix.
Also ‘No Greater Love’ by The Testimonials is very strong with its driving beat, awesome vocals and kick ass rhythm section.
There’s also ‘Nowhere to Run’ by The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio and ‘Thank you Jesus’ by Gospel Ambassadors – both worthy of your attention – although the latter ruined by the addition of a Steve Cobby – of Fila Brazilia fame remix. There was just no need for it!

Sammy Goulbourne