White Christmas – The Rance Allen Group

Every year around this time, a 45 reaches out of the ol’ Christmas Jukebox and just slays me…

just, wow…
The Rance Allen Group – L-R: Thomas, Rance, Steve

After Stax Records’ first stab at running a Gospel subsidiary label, Chalice, sort of faded away once Atlantic pulled out, Al Bell decided it was time for another foray into that lucrative market in early 1972. Hiring Dave Clark, who knew a thing or two about Gospel Music after spending most of the previous two decades working for Don Robey at Peacock, Bell put him in charge of newly created imprint The Gospel Truth. According to Rob Bowman, Clark had been ‘awestruck’ by a group of three brothers when he served as a judge at a Gospel competition in Detroit, and signed them on the spot. After cutting some tracks with local producer Toby Jackson, Clark brought the tapes down to Memphis, where The Rance Allen Group would have the first release on the label that January.

The Rance Allen Group live at Wattstax, August 20, 1972

The raw power of the trio’s performance at Wattstax that August helped put them on the map, and had Dave Clark promoting Stax’ new vision of ‘Gospel Rock’ to anyone who’d listen. It apparently paid off, as Rance and the group broke into the R&B Top 40 for the label with I Got To Be Myself in the Spring of 1973.

In 1974, faced with increasing financial pressure, Al Bell decided to phase out ‘The Gospel’ and rechristen the label as simply ‘Truth’. Stax would then be able to release new Soul product on there as well, in an effort to sidestep their dismal distribution agreement with CBS. It appeared to have been a good move, as Shirley Brown would take Woman To Woman (Truth 3206) all the way to #1 R&B that Fall. Paired with David Porter and the man who had taken Isaac Hayes’ place as his writing and production partner, Ronnie Williams, The Rance Allen Group’s first Truth release, Ain’t No Need Of Crying, made it to to #61 R&B in early 1975. According to Williams, It was a tune which became ‘the company’s unofficial theme song’ as Stax continued to crumble around them.

Be that as it may, at Stax’ 50th Anniversary Celebration at The Orpheum Theater in 2007, Rance Allen and his brothers literally stole the show with their performance of it that night…

God Is Good… all the time!

We lost Bishop Rance Allen in 2020. His music continues to uplift and inspire all those who have ears to listen…

Merry Christmas, everybody – I hope Santa treats you good!

One thought on “White Christmas – The Rance Allen Group

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s