As I mentioned in my last post, it’s a house tradition on Dr. King’s holiday that we listen to Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions. But we also always dig pretty deep into the golden era of black gospel. My knowledge of such has been vastly expanded by the astute, enthusiastic, witty, and passionate writing of Anthony Heilbut (I recommend you to The Gospel Sound–loaded with a killer discography–and The Fan Who Knew Too Much), as well as his expert gospel productions and compilations.
Speaking of Heilbut, this collection is typical of the catalog of his Shanachie-distributes Spirit Feel label, from which I’ve drunk many times and always left lit. Along with names you should know (Rosetta, Mahalia, Clara, and Marion–who lets loose with some of the mighty whoooos that, in earlier incarnations, Little Richard picked up and passed to the Beatles), you also get The Georgia Peach and the amazing, bluesy Bessie Griffin (when she hollers “I got a telephone in my bosom / So my heart can call on God,” this atheist almost believes). The tracks’ vintage spans from 1931 to 1982, and Heilbut’s notes are typically fascinating. Stuff is not easy to find, either.
The cream of the Silvertones on Vee-Jay, which is to say the cream of the Silvertones. Which is to say the cream of golden-era quartets. Which is to say some of the greatest American music ever recorded. The Reverend Claude Jeter, forever.
Raw twinned vocals, electric guitar, a touch of organ, and that’s just about all–and, I ask you, what more might you need? Gems from the great Nashboro label.
Inspired by Nicole’s Carter Family reading:
Various Artists: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
June Carter Cash: Wildwood Flower