Pastor T.L. Barrett & the Youth For Christ Choir - Like A Ship... (Without A Sail) LP

(Mt. Zion, 1971 - Numero Group, 2017)


As a teenager, Thomas Lee Barrett worked in a morgue removing pituitary glands from cadavers. Later in life he became a spiritual and social leader in Chicago with ties to Reverend Jesse Jackson and former president Barack Obama. He has also been accused of operating several pyramid schemes, fleecing his own congregants and many other people of millions of dollars. Somewhere in between (1971, to be exact) he cut this album with his Youth For Christ Choir.

Like A Ship… was reissued by preeminent reissue label, Light In The Attic in 2010. Since then Pastor Barrett’s music has been used in Netflix’s Obama biopic, an Under Armour ad campaign featuring Steph Curry, and sampled by the likes of T.I. and Kanye West (thought Mr. Kardashian sampled a track from a different album). After hearing the title track alone it’s not hard to see why this long-lost classic has found new life four decades after its initial release. “Like A Ship” is up there with any of the best gospel or soul songs of the 70s. The rest of the album features both originals and traditional gospel songs with Barrett’s exceptional voice, a powerful backing choir, and a few ringer musicians brought in from Chess records and other local studio players.