Founded in the late '30s, gospel quartet the Dixie Hummingbirds have had, in the group's various configurations, seven decades of records and performances, and with their innovative harmonies and phrasing, they've influenced countless performers, including many secular ones. This brief set collects a dozen sides from the Hummingbirds' mid-'40s stay at Carmen Murphy's Detroit-based gospel label H.O.B Records. It's a nice set, for what it is, but listeners should be aware that the Hummingbirds' best recordings come just after these were made when the group moved to Don Robey's Houston-based Peacock Records label. Robey liked energy in the gospel records he recorded, and his habit of adding bluesy instrumentation behind his gospel acts gave the Hummingbirds the freedom to expand and electrify their already solid gospel sound. These H.O.B. tracks don't have quite the same punch, but they're still solid. ~ Steve Leggett
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