Rev J M Gates - Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order Vol 3: 1926

Published Sunday 28th January 2007
Rev J M Gates - Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order Vol 3: 1926
Rev J M Gates - Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order Vol 3: 1926

STYLE: Gospel
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 10284-9724
LABEL: Document DOCD5433
RRP: £9.99

Reviewed by Tony Cummings

Rev Gates' extraordinary habit of re-recording a lot of his material for numerous record companies means that this album features versions of some of the Atlanta Baptist minister's best known songs. So here you've got "Dying Gambler" and "Death's Black Train Is Coming" which are much featured on the first two volumes of these Document CDs. What is fascinating about the set of tracks on this CD is that gradually the singing becomes less and more and more the full-on sermon (or as much as they could cram into three minutes on a 78) takes over. Some of these fiery, brooding and amazingly rhythmic sermonettes are gems, none more so than the wonderfully titled "Death Might Be Your Santa Claus" (now there's a title you're unlikely to see on one of those grizzly Nashville Christmas albums). The world's greatest blues expert Paul Oliver devoted a big piece in his book Screening The Blues to Rev Gates' historic recordings, and it is indeed a truly memorable slice of fire and brimstone preaching, the good reverend castigating those who buy their children Christmas gifts of guns and decks of cards then moving on to warn those who prepare to drive to all night dances that Death could be waiting around the next bend. Elsewhere, there is some pretty controversial stuff (for 1926 at least!) in the sermon "Judgement Day Is Coming" when the preacher declares that even the President of America will have to take his place at the judgment bar with "liars, underminers, backbiters and peacemakers" (presumably meaning those who send others to rest in peace). Seldom has church history sounded so fascinating.

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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