Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Gospel Train/Sister On Tour

Published Monday 7th September 2015
Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Gospel Train/Sister On Tour
Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Gospel Train/Sister On Tour

STYLE: Gospel
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 158039-23262
LABEL: Souljam 600856

Reviewed by Lins Honeyman

Gospel legend Sister Rosetta Tharpe has been credited with influencing the likes of Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry at the very birth of rock 'n' roll and, thanks to this lovingly remastered Soul Jam Records rerelease of two of Tharpe's later albums, it's not hard to see why. First up, the 1957 classic 'Gospel Train' album is featured in its entirety and sees the first lady of gospel in arguably less frantic mode than usual but proving that she still has the verve and passion to pull off some truly great performances. Aided by better recording facilities and backed by the great quartet The Harmonizing Four plus a full band made up of musicians from the New York jazz scene at the time, Tharpe's characteristic vocal and guitar work is given room to breathe with remade versions of "Up Above My Head" and "Jericho" having all the hallmarks of early rock 'n' roll whilst the down tempo blues of "Beams Of Heaven" is a particular highlight and showcases the sheer of power of both Tharpe's voice and performance. In a move that will delight record collectors, the hard-to-find 1961 album 'Sister On Tour' finds itself in spruced up condition in the second half of this release and sees Tharpe echoing the beefier R&B sound of the time via a number of full band live recordings that benefit from the kind of driving horn sections used by Fats Domino and Little Richard a few years earlier. Cementing her standing as an vibrant live performer, the likes of high octane numbers such as "Joy In This Land" and "God Is Wonderful" are truly infectious whilst biblical expositions such as "Woman" (referencing the story of the woman at the well) and the bubbly "As You Sow, So Shall You Reap" would have helped to deflect the ill-conceived criticism that Tharpe was moving away from the gospel message by embracing current musical trends. Also included in this bumper release are six bonus tracks - including a jaw-dropping live version of "Didn't It Rain" which sees Sister Rosetta take on both her and Marie Knight's vocal duties accompanied solely by her trademark fractured guitar playing without missing a beat whilst the inlay booklet contains both albums' original liner notes plus two informative essays from writers Gary Blailock and James Chumet to add the icing on the cake of this essential release.

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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