1965. Summer’s just about over. I’m driving around in my little 1960 blue Falcon, “radio tuned to rock’n’roll.” This country song keeps coming on and I immediately switch stations. What are they doing playing this kind of stuff on my station? One day I tune in just as the song ends and the DJ says, “That was ‘Act Naturally’ by The Beatles.” Whaaat?!? Well, after that, I started listening to it and, eating my prejudice for lunch, started to really like it. I mean, it was the Beatles. Sometime later, one of my friends played me a song he was learning on his guitar, “Buckaroo,” by some guy called Buck Owens. That was pretty fine too. Little by little. . . . Well, at some point along the way I heard Buck Owens’ original of “Act Naturally,” and though the Beatles’ version is still a favorite, there’s really no comparison. Conversion complete.
This seems to be Staples week around some of the music blogs I follow. Cussin’ and Carryin’ On has an interesting piece tracing the evolution of the Staple Singers from being primarily straight gospel singers to having a more all encompassing vision of the power of their music to effect change after Pop Staples heard Martin Luther King, Jr. speak. Then over at The Singing Bones, Ana B discusses the Staples’ first two Vee-Jay LPs, and offers a listen to their 1959 single “So Soon,” with a lead by Mavis Staples, “. . . whose voice qualifies as a force of nature. . . .”
I’ve also posted a few Staple Singers tunes here this past week (and previously), and today I’d like to add a couple more early favorites, the B-sides to their first two Vee-Jay singles. The first is probably my favorite Mavis lead, 1955’s “God’s Wonderful Love”—I haven’t any words to describe how powerful and moving her singing is on this stark side. Next up is the Roebuck-led “I Know I Got Religion,” with his high vocal and shimmering guitar anchored by the responsive “certainly, Lord”s of Mavis, Cleo, and Pervis.
Featuring the unbelievably, stupendously [add more adjectives here] sensational Rev. Julius Cheeks on lead vocals . . . not to mention the soaring harmonies of the ’Gales and Carl Coates’ bassobuh-bm-buh-bm-buh-bm-bms.
A Closer Walk With Thee – The Sensational Nightingales – 1958
Here’s a strange one, issued in the late ’60s, and primarily a vehicle for tunes by John Fahey and Robbie Basho; it also contained this spacey oddity by Bukka White. Heard in certain, er, states, it tended to elicit silly grins from yours truly its listeners. . . .