The Highway Q. C.’s, Jesus Is Waiting

Mike McGonigal

By Mike McGonigal

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Jesus Is Waiting

The Highway Q. C.'s

It's tough to wrap ones 'brain around the idea that "Somewhere to Lay My Head," the first track on the Highway QC's Jesus is Waiting, was the B-side to the group's first single. Not only did it quickly become one of the group's signature songs, I'd argue that this pure and plaintive a cappella number is among the greatest gospel songs ever recorded — or heck, that it's simply one of the greatest songs, period. Johnnie Taylor's lead tenor vocals generate goosebumps each and every time, from his opening, bluesy "whoooaaahhh" to the final note he delivers with the rest of the group behind him. A quartet of this sort is only as strong as its weakest link, of course, and with the Highway QC's there are none. The bass vocals are perfect, the first and second tenors are never out of tune for half a second.

Responsible for the careers of Johnnie Taylor, Sam Cooke and others, this quartet is one of the greatest gospel groups of all time.

Fans of golden age gospel may be well aware of the restrained yet intense charms of the QC's, but their general obscurity is a bit baffling when you first hear them. This music is simply so good it can be hard to listen to anything else some days — the arrangements are tight but not overly so, and the convictions are so intense it gives you, well, more goosebumps. The album's title is a bit curious and seems to be the product of misunderstanding. The song it seems to take its name from is actually the 1960 recording "Jesus I'm Waiting" — as in, "Jesus, I am waiting for you."