The latest part of the ongoing series chronicling, in no particular order, the greatest 1001 recordings made by Christian artists
981. THE GOLDEN GATE JUBILEE QUARTET - JEZEBEL, 1941. From the
album 'Complete Recorded Works In Chronological order Vol 4 1939-1943,
In 1925 four students at Booker T Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia founded The Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet. And so began one of the longest running stories in gospel music history. The Gates' grasp of acappella harmony made them a stylistic template for hundreds of similar groups singing in a similar jubilee style while their fast syncopated songs, full of wit and aplomb, brought them to the attention of white audiences. After appearing on the same bill as Count Basie and Benny Goodman on John Hammond's From Spiritual To Swing concert at Carnegie Hall the quartet landed a contract to sing on their own CBS radio series and were soon performing at posh nightclubs in Manhattan. Although singing some "secular" material they never completely abandoned their gospel roots. One of their biggest hits "Jezebel" recorded for Victor Records in 1941 is a dazzling musical depiction of King Ahab's wicked wife.
982. KINGS KALEIDOSCOPE - FELIX CULPA, 2014. From the album
'Becoming Who We Are', Independent.
Since the internet has become the primary way to get new music to people, thousands of worship ministries have taken the opportunity to get their songs out to the world wide Church. Kings Kaleidoscope from Seattle have produced some stirring worship anthems and none more so than the song "Felix Culpa" which, if you're not up on your theology, means the sin of Adam is viewed as fortunate because it brought about the blessedness of the Redemption.
983. THE CROSSBEATS - BACK
WHERE YOU BELONG, 1967. From the album 'Crazy Mixed Up Generation',
As every Beatles fan knows, much of the Fab Four's popularity began in Liverpool where a certain club The Cavern played host to the future stars. The Cavern Club didn't just showcase the Beatles: Gerry & The Pacemakers, Cilla Black and Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas all regularly played the Cavern before going on to international popularity. There were dozens of other regulars at The Cavern too including beat gospel group The Crossbeats. Now I'm not suggesting The Crossbeats were in the same league as the Beatles, but their engaging self-written gospel songs went down well enough with the club faithful. And though the few Crossbeats recordings were hampered by non-existent production, 50 years on The Crossbeats' "Back Where You Belong" still has a lot of charm.
984. ARMY OF BONES - DEAD IN THE WATER, 2017. From the album
'Army Of Bones', Independent.
No doubt there were more than a few doubters who felt that Martin Smith's decision to start a new band and concentrate on the great unchurched was never going to succeed. It still remains to be seen whether Army Of Bones will find the huge following that Delirious? once enjoyed but anyone who's heard AOB's debut album will have no doubt that the band are as good as anything out there in clubland, and indeed given the opportunity (which means a multi-national push) as good as any unit playing the world's stadia. Whether this will happen only God knows. But for those discerning enough to have purchased the Army of Bones debut will know that they are practitioners of sonically satisfying rock soundscapes overflowing with passion and intensity.
985. VINEYARD MUSIC - MORE LOVE, MORE POWER, 1998. From the
album 'Winds Of Worship II: Live From Australia', Vineyard
The Vineyard stream of churches founded by charismatic speaker and healer John Wimber were by the 1980s one of the foundation stones of modern worship. They released a stream of cassettes which took the worship songs emanating from the proliferating Vineyard churches around the world. And so it was in 1986 an album was released in the Songs Of The Vineyard series called 'Glory'. On that humble release was the song "More Love, More Power" written by an unknown songwriter, Jude Del Heiro. Gradually in the following few decades the song impacted the world Church and today everyone from Michael W Smith, Fred Hammond and Jeff Deyo have recorded the anthem, with Deyo in 2002even taking a speeded up version to number one in the US Christian chart. But it was a version first featured on the Vineyard Music album 'Winds Of Worship II: Live From Australia' which best caught the tender-hearted devotion of the song. The singer is Rae-Helen Fisenden who is a music teacher and flautist who at the time was worship leader at Churchlands Vineyard in Western Australia. It is the definitive version of a classic song.
986. BIDDLEVILLE QUINTETTE - I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS SAY,
1929. From the various artists album 'Complete Recorded Works In
Chronological Order Vol 1 1926-1929', Document.
The Biddleville Quintette came from Biddleville, a small black residential community on the north side of Charlotte, North Carolina. It had sprung up in response to the founding of a local black college Biddle Institute today known as Johnson C Smith University. The Biddleville Quintette were formed by a local labourer Adam Brown and by the time they made the recording of the haunting acappella "I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say" consisted of four male and one female singer. Their exact personnel isn't known but their music is timeless.
987. DON FRANCISCO - HE'S ALIVE, 1977. From the album
Singer/songwriter Don Francisco has written many fine songs but it's his "He's Alive" from his second album which has long been considered his all-time classic. A powerful narrative account of Jesus' resurrection told through the perspective of disciple Peter, its drama is unparalleled. Trade magazine CashBox called "He's Alive" "one of the best folk gospel ballads of all time."
988. STEWART & KYLE - COME EARLY, 1977. From the
album 'Isn't It Strange' Grapevine.
Stewart & Kyle were Alistair Stewart and Chris Kyle who in the '70s were very popular in the UK churches, particularly in Northern Ireland. Their folk pop sound has a bit of Dan Fogelberg and, surprise, surprise, Simon & Garfunkel in their sound and this song, "Come Early", captures the engaging troubadours at their very best.
989. SOUL STIRRERS - TOUCH THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT, 1956. From
the album 'Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers', Specialty.
Few aficionados would argue that Sam Cooke had one of the greatest voices in popular music and his reputation as one of the founding fathers of soul music is now assured. Gospel enthusiasts will tell you that the recordings made by Sam with the veteran quartet The Soul Stirrers are the creative pinnacle of the singer's vast body of work although, those who know Sam's history will also concede that the singer and songwriter's journey along the showbiz fast track is a tragic tale which has been repeated numerous times when church-raised singers pursue fame and fortune. Be that as it may, the Soul Stirrers' rendition of "Touch The Hem Of His Garment" is a brilliant recording sung by a great lead singer.
990. UNITED - SHADOW STEP, 2017. From the album 'Wonder',
Hillsong United have unquestionably continued to develop creatively down the years and on the 'Wonder' album they have reached a pinnacle. The production on the album, with its sweeps into electronic soundscapes, is jaw-dropping while their lyrics are now among the most poetic heard in the whole of modern worship. "Shadow Step" will impact all who hear it.
...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.