Reverend J. M. Gates
Are You Bound for Heaven or Hell?
The Best of Reverend J. M. Gates
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2004, Volume 11, #8
Written by John Metzger
The first two tracks (Good Bye to Chain Stores, Part 1 & 2) on Are You Bound for Heaven or Hell? feature the Reverend James M. Gates preaching about the perils of commercialism, particularly the influx of outside interests into African-American neighborhoods. In a dialogue with his parishioners, he explains how these corporations prey upon the community by removing money and jobs rather than caring for its inhabitants, and he makes it abundantly clear as to why itís important to support locally-owned businesses. Elsewhere on the 19-track set, he yearns for a simpler, less complex life (Devil in a Flying Machine); offers marriage counseling (Scat to the Cat and Suie to the Hog); opines about overcrowded prisons (No Room in the Jailhouse); and defiantly fights racism (Kinky Hair Is No Disgrace). Though there is little in the way of music contained on the collection, one can hear the call-and-response choruses of gospel radiate throughout his rousing deliveries, and in the end, one is left wondering just what the Reverend James. M. Gates might think of Americaís current predicament, were he alive to see how many of the issues about which he warned still exist.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box