Friday, April 24, 2020

Why did you stumble and why did you fall on the journey

Greatest Gospel Gems

Hard to pick just one all-time classic from Julius Cheeks’ time with the Nightingales. This one’s got everything you need, though, from Rev. Cheeks: hoarse but warm baritone vocals and considerable testifying abilities, both here in abundant measure.

The Sensational Nightingales • A Closer Walk With Thee • 1958

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Lord . . . I . . . come . . . to . . . thee

Greatest Gospel Gems

Back in 2012, The Singing Bones posted an awesome quartet version of an old lining hymn, “A Charge to Keep” by the Echoes of Zion. The Echoes’ song is reminiscent of an earlier quartet record by The Pilgrim Travelers, “I Love the Lord” (also recorded by Rev. Robert Crenshaw in a congregational version). All of these records bring to mind another really fine congregational lining hymn recorded in a Chicago church service by Deacon Leroy Shinault around 1957. Alan Lomax writes, in his notes to Negro Church Music (Atlantic LP 1351), “The most vigorous survival of early black religious folk culture is the lined-out psalm, which is not black in origin, but goes back to the beginning of the Reformation in Europe. . . . The early Protestant leaders needed hymns by means of which they could teach their radical doctrines to an illiterate congregation. Therefore their song leaders intoned the psalms line by line. After each line was given out, the song leader led the congregation in singing it.” Though the Deacon Shinault record is rarely seen (or heard) in its original incarnation on Ping, it (and its flip also heard here) has been reissued over the years on LP and CD and should be relatively easy to find.

Deacon L. Shinault • Lord I Come To Thee / I Cannot Live In Sin • 1957

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

I want to be in that number, baby

Really the Postwar Blues

Papa Lightfoot leads the way on the parade you want to be second lining in. . . .

Papa Lightfoot • When the Saints Go Marching In • 1954

We’re gonna branch off this parade for a while and when next you see us, we’ll be back in a gospel mood.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Somebody tell me, tell me, tell me

Really the Postwar Blues

Clifton Chenier’s first record, a terrific heartfelt blues, recorded in less than ideal conditions for J. R. Fullbright’s Elko label in 1954; the original issue misspelled Clifton’s name on both the song title and artist credit. The next year found him recording several fine R&B sides for Specialty. He made a number of one-off singles for Argo, Checker, and Zynn through the fifties before hooking up with Arhoolie in 1964 for a few singles and a whole slew of great albums into the 70s. In a career filled with many fine recordings and live performances around the world, this first one remains one of his very best. . . .

Clifton Chenier • Clifton’s Blues • 1954
issued as “Cliston Blues” by Cliston Chanier “King of the South”

LP cover: Discogs