The Rance Allen Group Live in San Francisco is a celebratory experience, even for those who’ve never known what it means to party with God…

The Rance Allen Group Live in San Francisco                                                                                                

The Rance Allen Group                                                                                                                                                            


CD: 13 tracks / 70:10 minutes                                                                                                                                               

DVD: 70 minutes

Rance Allen is something else altogether.

Of course he’s a gospel music legend, right up there with the likes of The Clark Sisters, The Winans, or The Mighty Clouds of Joy, but he’s equally at home with contemporary Urban Gospel artists like Kirk Franklin. Fronting The Rance Allen Group on the current CD and DVD project(s), Live in San Francisco, Allen makes it clear that his sweet spot is in the Gospel trio/quartet mode, as he and his brothers, Tom and Steve Allen, blend their vocals with Chris Byrd and Terry Faison on a baker’s dozen of live tracks recorded at the second annual Charles Reid Gospel Festival.

Rance sings, shouts, whoops, and does that little vocal schizophrenic thing that he does so well (you’ve got to hear it to know what I’m talking about) in a wide range of styles from the contemporary vocal group sound of “Miracle Worker,” to the slower-paced “Something About The Name Jesus,” to the party groove of “Got Me Dancin’” …and speaking of grooves, the band cooks. Chris Byrd (keyboards), Courtney Dwight (drums), Nicholas Allen (bass), Gordon Henry (lead guitar), and Terry Faison (lead guitar) make things tight and funky. The groove on “I’m Not Givin’ Up Givin’ Out Givin’ In” is infectious and Nicholas Allen’s bass absolutely becomes a living thing on that song and the three that follow, which end the album in party mode. How often do you get to hear James Brown’s “Sex Machine” (“Get up-a, Get on up!”) quoted in a gospel song?

Of course, what you don’t get to see on the audio disc is the band in action and – more importantly – Allen himself. Rance Allen is – as he points out himself – a big man. A very big man. With a shock of wavy snow-white hair. And he can dance. The video is shot from a variety of angles and covers the stage well in a no-frills style that pretty much gives the viewer the best seat in the house. If you wondered where the horn players were, the video makes it obvious that they were added in the overdub sessions – they do sound organic and tight, however.

The Rance Allen Group Live in San Francisco is a celebratory experience featuring a legendary Gospel performer totally in his element. Yes, it’s The Rance Allen Group, but Rance is the main attraction, and with good reason. His warmth and unique delivery are the glue that holds the performance together. For those who’ve never known what it means to party with God, The Rance Allen Group Live in San Francisco would be a good place to start to learn.


Bert Saraco

4 tocks