The latest part of the ongoing series chronicling, in no particular order, the greatest 1001 recordings made by Christian artists
951. CROWDER WITH BILL GAITHER - BECAUSE HE LIVES, 2014. From
the album 'Neon Steeple Deluxe Edition', Capitol.
In the late '60s Gloria Gaither was going through troubled times including unfounded criticism of her musician husband Bill and serious financial pressure. One day she went into her children's playroom and, on a beat up old piano, wrote a song which expresses the hope she could still find in Christ. That song "Because He Lives" was first popularised by the Bill Gaither Trio and has gone on to be recorded hundreds of times and printed in dozens of songbooks. In 2014 radical modern worship man Crowder took the song and with Bill Gaither himself recorded a version stylistically some way from the original rendition although the timeless words "Because he lives I can face tomorrow/Because he lives all fear is gone" continue to resonate with truth.
952. BIRMINGHAM JUBILEE SINGERS - I HEARD THE PREACHIN' OF THE
ELDERS, 1927. From the album 'Complete Recorded Works in Chronological
Order Vol 1 1926-1927', Document.
Jefferson County in Alabama was a rich source of African-American vocal group talent between 1925 and 1950. One of the many groups that started there were the Birmingham Jubilee Singers. Rich harmonies led to them being able to tour the vaudeville theatres of America as well as recording many songs, both secular and sacred, for Columbia Records. The Singers' rendition of the old spiritual "I Heard The Preachin' Of The Elders", featuring the stately lead vocal of Charles Bridges, still connects.
953. IAN YATES - ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, 2016. From the
album 'Awaken To Love', 7Core Music, 2016.
Covering a Beatles song is always going to be a risky business as critics and nostalgists are bound to make reference to the recording once made by John, Paul, George and Ringo. Covering a Beatles song for a worship album was, until Mr Yates' effort, completely unheard of. Yet on his 'Awaken To Love' album it's a standout. The song itself reminds us that it is the agape love of God which partners and directs us through the twists and turns of life. Ian is based in Liverpool and has seen first-hand how affecting this Beatles oldie can be on those seeking the power of God.
954. THE FLOOD - MORNING TIME, 1994. From the various artists
album 'Cross Rhythms: Sanctified Dance From The UK Underground',
Back in 1993 Cross Rhythms was asked to compile an album of British Christian dance music tracks for American record label N-Soul Records. In the '90s, N-Soul were the focal point in the Church's first steps into the musical culture of clubland and recognised that there were a few Christian record producers turning out house and electro music that deserved an airing in the US. And so the CD 'Cross Rhythms: Sanctified Dance From The UK Underground' came into being. Pride of place on the compilation was the track "Morning Time" by a Windsor-based club DJ who called himself The Flood. It was a gem.
955. FISK UNIVERSITY JUBILEE SINGERS - WERE YOU THERE, 1920.
From the various artists album 'The Earliest Negro Vocal Groups Vol 5
As everyone knows, stirring and sometimes beautiful African-American spirituals were created in the awful era of American slavery. After slavery was abolished in the Southern states, black schools and colleges began to spring up including the pioneering Fisk University. The university came up with a clever idea to raise funding and formed a small touring choir. And so the Fisk University Jubilee Singers became popularisers of spirituals as they took these moving songs of faith and spiritual freedom all around the world. The Fisks even got to perform before Queen Victoria. They were also amongst the first acts to record, first on cylinder and then on 78 rpm singles, and their rendition of "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord" still stirs the soul almost a hundred years after it was recorded.
956. BETHEL MUSIC - LION AND THE LAMB, 2016. From the album
'Heard It All', Bethel Music.
Every year or two the modern worship movement produces a song about which many will confidently predict will be sung in churches for years to come. Such is the case with "Lion And The Lamb". Written by Leeland Mooring, Brenton Brown and Brian Johnson it brilliantly reflects on the paradoxical nature of the godhead, the warrior king goes before us in battle and the Lamb of God who appeared to the lay down his life so we would be free from the bondage of sin. This simple yet profound song is sung upliftingly by those revivalists from Redding, California, Bethel Music.
957. ANDRE CROUCH & THE DISCIPLES - SOON AND VERY SOON,
1976. From the album 'Vol 1: The Classics', Light.
Andrae Crouch & The Disciples were a pivotal ensemble in developing the Jesus music of the early '70s into the contemporary Christian music of later times. They were also, with their multi-racial lineup, the first group to bridge the gap between African-American gospel music and the pop music of progressive white congregations. "Soon And Very Soon" is one of Crouch's classic compositions, a joyful call-and-response which looks forward to the Lord's return.
958. ARIZONA DRANES - I'll Go Where You Want Me To G
, 1927. From the various artists album 'Wade In The Water: A Soul
Chronology Vol 1 1927-1951, History Of Soul.
Even as far back as the 1920s there were popular piano-pounding players of gospel music to demonstrate that not all the hot piano players resided in sleazy clubs and bars. Arizona Dranes was a blind singer, pianist and fixture of the Church Of God In Christ. Sadly, she died in obscurity in the 1960s but left behind a series of recordings now revered by musicologists. "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go" is one of the best.
959. ZACH WILLIAMS - CHAIN BREAKER, 2016. From the album
'Chain Breaker', Essential.
A singer/songwriter from Jonesboro, Arkansas, Zach Williams surprised many industry observers when he came up with a huge Christian radio hit in 2016 with his song "Chain Breaker". A celebration of how the Lord frees us from spiritual bondage, it's a song which has connected with countless churchgoers.
960. WISEMAN SEXTETTE - SHINE ON ME, 1923. From the album
'Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order 1923',
Lining out, where a frontman sang or chanted a line of a gospel hymn and the congregation sang it back, was an ancient way in rural churches of leading a congregation through a worship song. As explained on the spoken introduction of the 78 "Shine On Me" by the Wiseman Sextette this form of worship was considered "old-fashioned" even in the 1920s. But the group, led by the Reverend T H Wiseman and recorded in New York in July 1923, here shows that there was considerable spiritual impact in their performance of authentic folk art.
...to be continued
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The Complete Spirit Of Rock And Soul As So Far Published In Chronological Order
As published in CR1, 1st May 19
Well known American music journalist Dave Marsh has recently had a book of reviews
published by Penguin. It's called The Heart Of Rock And Soul. What you get are Dave's reviews of a thousand and one tracks hyped on the book cover as 'the greatest singles ever made'.
All lovers of pop music should investigate the book. Though there's just a touch of the portentous about some of Dave's writing, and he restricts his choice to successful singles and doesn't comment on the thousands of creatively fine but commercially unsuccessful ones, let alone album tracks, its a fascinating read. But what is sorely missing in Dave's tome, as the author himself admits, is gospel music. "There are no gospel singles in The Heart Of Rock And Soul quite simply because I could find no way of contextualizing them without trivializing them," he writes.
Dave is right in admitting his omission. Like just about every other rock music historian, he has little or no familiarity with the thousands of post-war black gospel records, which not only represent one of the richest veins of music but are also a root source of the rock and roll beat and the southern soul music Dave loves with such passion.