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. . . .
Lawrence Walker is another of the Cajun accordion greats, a great player and a soulful singer, with a sense of sadness that permeates even his uptempo songs. He had a band with his brother Elton that recorded several sessions during the Depression, but seems to have hit his stride as a bandleader in the Fifties and Sixties with many great sides recorded for Khoury, La Louisianne, and Swallow. All the songs in the playlist below are originally from singles made for La Louisianne around 1961 and later reissued on the LP pictured. They feature Walker’s beautiful singing and playing, a fine band, and Dick Richard’s standout steel playing.
All but one of the songs here are available on The Essential Collection of Lawrence Walker (Swallow SW6221, 2010), along with the best of his Swallow and Khoury recordings.
For more information on Lawrence Walker, see Ann Savoy’s book Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People, Volume 1, Bluebird Press, Inc., 1984.
A lot of us aspiring blues aficionados first heard this song on the 1967 Chess LP More Real Folk Blues, but it originally came out in 1950 on a Chess 78 with the grammatically creative title listed below. A fine, stripped down performance by Muddy and his slide, accompanied only by Little Walter on harmonica and Big Crawford on bass fiddle. Enough “said.”
Your Gonna Need My Help “I Said” – Muddy Waters – 1950