Sister Rosetta Tharpe - The One And Only Queen Of Hot Gospel

Published Thursday 20th February 2014
Sister Rosetta Tharpe - The One And Only Queen Of Hot Gospel
Sister Rosetta Tharpe - The One And Only Queen Of Hot Gospel

STYLE: Gospel
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 149160-21675
LABEL: Upbeat URCD242

Reviewed by Mike Rimmer

If you've not yet discovered the force of nature who was Sister Rosetta Tharpe then this is as good a place to start as ever. Where Mahalia Jackson was smooth, Sister Rosetta was raw, exuberant and a real performer. Her private life might have been tricky at times but as these recordings testify, her high energy performances were the hottest gospel happening in her era. This compilation covers recordings made, mostly in New York, from the late '30s to the late '40s - a decade of amazing music. From raw solo performances to working with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra, there are so many highlights like the big band highlight with Millinder on songs like "Four Or Five Times" and "That's All". There are a smattering of collaborations with Marie Knight including the wild version of "Didn't It Rain" which races along and the classic "Up Above My Head". There are classics like "Strange Things Happening Every Day" and my favourite version of "This Train" from 1947 which Rosetta had recorded plenty of times previously. "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" is soulfully accompanied on organ with added help from The Rosetta Gospel Singers. Also highlighted throughout the album was her heated guitar playing which was a huge influence on the first generation of rock'n'roll guitarists. She was one of the most amazing guitarists of her generation and if you want to know where Chuck Berry stole all his licks, have a listen! In 1951, Sister Rosetta married Russell Morrison at the Griffin Stadium in Washington DC. Being a shrewd cookie, she sold tickets for the event and 25,000 paid to witness the ceremony and gospel concert. It was released as an album shortly afterwards which has long been deleted so the appearance here of the wedding ceremony as a bonus track is an interesting and hilarious listen. There are a lot of Sister Rosetta Tharpe compilations out there but this is still a great introduction to her music and ministry.

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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