Mahalia Jackson - Come To Jesus

Published Monday 11th December 2006
Mahalia Jackson - Come To Jesus
Mahalia Jackson - Come To Jesus

STYLE: Gospel
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 20192-12220
LABEL: Proper Properbox106

Reviewed by Tony Cummings

Mahalia's hugely important recordings for Apollo Records cut between 1946 and 1954 have long languished in a copyright free black hole meaning that any opportunistic record label could put a batch of them on a (usually budget price) album with a title like 'The Best Of Mahalia Jackson' or somesuch. So if you're interested in the gospel music matriarch you may well have some of the tracks packed onto this handsome box set. But this is still the reissue to get as, as far as I know, all Mahalia's Apollo sides are here. Proper reissued eight of these recordings (including her classic hit "Move On Up A Little Higher") on their earlier 'Good News: 100 Gospel Greats' compilation. But even if you have that, you will want this beautifully packaged box set which also gives you a handful of tracks from Mahalia's Columbia Records days. If truth be told those sides were often marred by poor material ("A Rusty Old Halo" here is truly excruciating) or inappropriate accompaniments. But when on the best Apollo stuff the gospel star lets rip with that wondrous bluesy contralto with just Mildred Falls on piano and songs from the anointed pens of W Herbert Brewster, Thomas Dorsey, Lucie Campbell et al and the older spirituals and hymns of her New Orleans childhood she was creating art of the highest quality. One of the most riveting vocalists ever, her "Lord have mercys" and "well well wells" brought soul power to the most mournful of hymns while her melismatic invention conveyed the passion of African American church to the vast international audience. There are numerous gems here and as a collector's bonus clever ol' Proper have also put on the set the four sides she recorded for Decca Records in 1937. Add to this a magnificent 44 page booklet full of fascinating facts and rare photos and you have a superlative compilation of vintage gospel.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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