Reviewed by David Cranson
This is the second compilation of material from this quartet I've heard in the past year or so. It is a very good companion to 2003's 'Columbia Jazz 1941-47'. There are one or two duplicates, but on the whole, the 20 tracks here deal with an earlier time in their history. The earliest tracks were recorded in August 1937 and even back then the influences of more contemporary music were there for all to see. Without these guys - and people like them - breaking out of the small Deep South Church circles, we would not have had the blues and jazz history we have today. You have to remember that groups such as these guys toured and recorded and performed under what was as close to Apartheid that the US had back then. The Golden Gate Quartet originated in Tidewater, Virginia. The difference here is that other groups and performers from that area stuck to the more "conservative" forms and types of music and arrangement. TGGQ didn't, they emphasised more of the beat of the music. These first TGGQ recordings are quoted as being regarded as the turning point in the history of gospel music. This being due to the beat and counterpoint emphasis to the music. To the modern ears they are "tame" (but far from being boring!), especially in light of the almost anything goes ethos in Christian music nowadays. Still, without TGGQ and their contemporaries we would not have the opportunity to listen to blues, jazz, folk and, I'll be so bold as to say, rock (in all it's forms) we can do today. For proof listen to the title track. Probably more famously recorded by Elivs, and how more crossover can you get, given Elvis' promotion of "coloured" music in the early days? Others I would mention would include "Preacher & The Bear", "He Never Said A Mumblin' Word" (one of the repeated tracks from the above mentioned album), "The Sun Didn't Shine" and - once again - most of the rest. If you want to know the roots - the real roots - of where your own musical choice comes from, then give TGGQ a listen. This is history and history well worth never forgetting about.
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