Jesus Rocked the Jukebox offers a spirited celebration of some of the most foundational songs in American musical history, tracing the evolution of the modern Soul, R&B, and Rock n' Roll genres via the likes of The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Swan Silvertones, The Staple Singers, Sam Cooke, and The Chosen Gospel Singers featuring Lou Rawls.
Like its male counterpoint, this anthology spotlights contributions from both famous stars (Mahalia Jackson, Marion Williams, Dorothy Love Coates, Sister Rosetta Tharpe) and obscure figures (Mary Johnson Davis, Jessie Mae Renfro, Lucy Smith, and Goldia Haynes, among others), presenting a hefty 31 selections. While some might quibble that celebrated stars Jackson and Williams get six tracks apiece, it's hard to argue with the greatness of what's presented by them. Others who give head-turning performances include Frances Steadman, Roberta Martin, and Clara Ward.
The concept of a compilation of Bob Dylan's gospel songs is certainly an idea whose time has come. That this does not feature Dylan performing the original versions of these songs is yet another. Executive producer Jeffrey Gaskill assembled a wide-ranging assortment of the hottest talent in the gospel arena, both past and present, to perform the songs from Dylan's Slow Train Coming and Saved albums, and producer Joel Moss extracted phenomenal performances from Shirley Caesar, the Fairfield Four, the Sounds of Blackness, Rance Allen, the Chicago Mass Choir fronted by Regina McCrary (who sang backup for Dylan on the 1978 and 1979 tours when these recordings were originally done), the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Helen Baylor (with Billy Preston), Aaron Neville, Dottie Peoples, Lee Williams & the Spiritual QC's, Mavis Staples, and Dylan himself (performing a duet on a completely rewritten version of "Gonna Change My Way of Thinkin'").