As I listened to Marc Cohn’s Walking On Memphis all wrapped up in the soul voices of Blind Boys Of Alabama I immediately thought how obvious this collaboration was.
In that, his biggest hit, Cohn’s touching down in the land of the data blues… walking with his feet “ten feet off Beale”… and then -
They've got catfish on the table
They've got gospel in the air
And Reverend Green be glad to see you
When you haven't got a prayer
But, boy, you've got a prayer in Memphis
Oh how Blind Boys pump soul right through the heart of it.
Even more extraordinary vocally is another song from Cohn’s debut record. Silver Thunderbird turns into a 10 minute work out. It is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird with voices, instead of guitars. Breathtakingly uplifting.
Talk Back Mic and Work To Do on the other hand send Blind Boys off towards a Marc Cohn sound. The former has a tasty John Leventhal guitar solo and the latter has that Cohn piano signature and is maybe the most beautiful track on the record.
It’s not only Cohn’s lyrics that make this collaboration inevitable. That husky Cohn voice is a perfect fit for these guys. A stripped back Ghost Train, yet again from Cohn’s eponymous debut is another gem. When Blind Boys come in, it is soul tingling. Baby King might be the most even sharing of vocals.
Blind Boys bring their own best off to play in the opening Walking To Jerusalem and their exquisite version of Amazing Grace to the tune of House Of The Rising Sun
This is an album that re-introduces Marc Cohn whose career seems to have been simmering under in recent years and gives Blind Boys Of Alabama another career high on their 80th year!! A match made in heaven, this might be one of the best album either of these artists have ever released!