Mary Mary – Thankful (Epic 2017 #169)

The Epic 2017 Project #169: 170618

Mary Mary – Thankful (1999)

Thankful was Mary Mary’s debut studio album, released on May 2, 2000 through Columbia Records. It’s all about contemporary gospel, R&B, hip hop and soul and as a part of that, produced the smash crossover hit “Shackles (Praise You)”, which reached the top-ten in seven countries. This was closely followed by the single “I Sings”, which was also a significant hit—although it did not match the success of its predecessor.

The album established Mary Mary as one of the leading artists in contemporary Christian music, and won the duo a Grammy Award in 2001. It peaked at number one on the US Gospel Albums, number twenty-two on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and number fifty-nine on the US Billboard 200. On release, AllMusic gave it a grade of four and a half out of five stars and Cross Rhythms – the main Christian music publisher – a top 10/10.

Isley Brothers – Forever Gold (Epic 2017 #120)

The Epic 2017 Project #120: 170430

The Isley Brothers – Forever Gold (1977)

The Isley Brothers from Cincinnati, Ohio originally comprised four brother – O’Kelly Jr., Rudolph, Ronald and Vernon, performing gospel music until Vernon’s death a few years after formation in 1954.

After moving to the New York City area in the late 1950s, the group had modest chart successes during their early years, first coming to prominence in 1959 with their fourth single, “Shout”, written by the three surviving brothers. Initially a modest charted single, the song eventually sold over a million copies. Afterwards the group recorded for a variety of labels, including the top 20 single, “Twist and Shout” and the Motown single, “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” before recording and issuing the Grammy Award-winning hit, “It’s Your Thing” on their own label, T-Neck Records.

Influenced by gospel and doo-wop music, the group began experimenting with different musical styles incorporating elements of rock and funk music as well as pop balladry. The inclusion of younger brothers Ernie Isley (lead guitar, drums) and Marvin Isley (bass guitar), and Rudolph’s brother-in-law Chris Jasper (keyboards, synthesizers) in 1973 turned the original vocal trio into a self-contained musical band. For the next full decade, they recorded top-selling albums including The Heat Is On and Between the Sheets.

Forever Gold is a greatest hits album capturing that success and released in 1977.

Alabama 3 – Outlaw (Epic 2017 #004)

The Epic 2017 Project #004: 170104

Alabama 3 – Outlaw (2005)

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This is the band’s fifth studio album. I bought it soon after its release in 2005 having heard some radio play of the track ‘Hello I’m Johnny Cash’.

The great man was still with us then of course and, whilst I don’t know what he thought of the song, I do know that the title is also that of Mr Cash’s 33rd studio album released in January 1970. So that has to count for something.

Anyways – it remains a great song. So here it is…

Jonny Lang (Rock A-Z – part #53)

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Born in Fargo, North Dakota in 1981, Jonny Lang first took up the guitar at the tender age of 12. A wise move as, just two years later with his backing band ‘The Big Bang’, he independently released his first album – Smokin’.

A year later, in 1996, he was signed to A&M records and has subsequently released six further albums; Lie to Me (1997), Wander this World (1998), Long time coming (2003), Turn Around (2006), Live at the Ryman (2009) and Fight for my soul (2013).

Here though is one of my favourites of his – a collaboration with the Fisk Jubilee singers from 2012 culminating in the ‘Oh Happy Day’ EP from which this cracker comes…