Sunday, September 24, 2006


The Mighty Clouds of Joy - Jesus Lead Us Safely

The Mighty Clouds of Joy were founded in the 1950s by Joe Ligon and Johnny Martin and made their recording debut in 1960 for Peacock Records. Their solid singing, great showmanship and willingness to take new approaches gave the group tremendous longevity and even some R&B chart action, most notably with the disco-era hit "Mighty High" (which I need to post soon!) Outside of the '70s hits the group and the R&B world didn't cross paths regularly, save for one case.

David Walker, one of the co-leads of the group, is better known to vintage soul fans as Bunker Hill, whose "Hide and Go Seek" and other recordings made with rock and roller Link Wray are great pieces of gospel-bent R&B. My understanding is that after his R&B recordings were made, he returned to the Mighty Clouds for a short while but then disappears from discographies. "Jesus Lead Us Safely" was the flip of "Ain't Got Long Here" (the group's awesome version of "Steal Away to Jesus") and features Walker on lead. Although this is a pretty straight uptempo gospel record, it really works. Walker's lead goes from simple reading of the song's single verse to motormouthing ad-libs built around the phrase "why don't you let the man lead you," which is highly reminiscent of the Bunker Hill records "Hide and Go Seek" and "You Can't Make Me Doubt My Baby." Also of note is the bass singer, whose versatile "booms" and "mooms" add to the recording.

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