Rolling Stone - 4 Stars - Excellent
Personnel: Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples, Joe Ligon, The Franklin Sisters (vocals); Reverend Cecil Franklin, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Jaspar Williams, Reverend Donald Parsons (spoken vocals); Michael Wright (guitar); Nick Johnson (piano); Earl J. Wright (organ); Lanar Brantley (bass); Dana Davis (percussion); Margaret Branch, Renee Thomas, Ortheia Barnes, Sandra Feva (background vocals).
Recorded at the New Bethel Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan in July 1987. Includes liner notes by David Nathan.
This is part of Arista Records "Original Masters" series.
Fifteen years after Amazing Grace, her groundbreaking gospel record, Aretha Franklin returned to the church yet again, and though the results couldn't top the wall-to-wall power and spirit found on her first, the double-album One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, it's still a worthy document of what the church meant to her. The roster of invited guests was enough to get gospel fans excited, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Jasper Williams, and Rev. C.L. Franklin (her brother, who delivered the invocation), plus Mavis Staples, Joe Ligon (from the Mighty Clouds of Joy), and her sisters, Carol and Erma. Slotted next to sanctified standards like "Surely God Is Able" and "The Lord's Prayer," were several great selections from the pop repertoire, including a scorching version of "Higher Ground." Staples stops by for an ebullient run through the latter-day standard "Oh Happy Day," and the performance closes with a touching finale, "Packing Up, Getting Ready to Go," featuring Staples and Ligon, plus Carol and Erma Franklin. ~ John Bush