STYLE: Gospel RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 5461-5305 LABEL: Charly 221 FORMAT: CD Album
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
The one fragment of information that every would-be pop historian enjoys quoting is that Paul Simon based "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on a throwaway line from the Swans' "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" (featured here). What should be more generally known is that the Swan Silvertones were one of the greatest vocal groups ever to grace a recording studio and now that the CD-reissue boom has seen fit to bestow on us a 21 -song compilation of classic cuts recorded between 1956 and 1965 lovers of black gospel, black music and simply music have no excuse in not investigating the glorious roots of their obsession. The Swans possessed in the Rev Claude Jeter a vocalist of such sweet soulfulness that the listener's ears seem to ache with intensity while the 'hard' shouters the group also employed had enough rasping power to knock down any storefront church. In a rich treasury of delights like this one, lovingly selected from the archives of Chicago's Vee Jay Records, its hard to make just one or two recommendations though I would suggest "At The Cross", a hard, soulful sermonette which as the sleevenote says would have been at home on the R&B charts several years later, and "A Lady Called Mother", where the hypnotic chants of "doowop" are a clear pointer of another sphere of the group's influence. You've heard the imitations, now investigate the orginators.
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