STYLE: Gospel RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 9841-9433 LABEL: VeeJay SNAP188CD FORMAT: CD Album RRP: £8.99
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
On more than one occasion Cross Rhythms has waxed lyrical about the Swans and particularly the sublime recordings they made for VeeJay between 1956 and 1964. There have been previous ventures into the VeeJay archives (in 1990 Charly released a superb 21-song album ‘Get Your Soul Right’ and 12 of the tracks on that are also on this 28-song release). But this is still an essential purchase both for gospel historians and connoisseurs of sweet soul music – leader Claude Jeter’s spine-tingling falsetto curling acrobatically around mainly self-composed songs, while his harmonizing buddies provide impeccable accompaniments. There are plenty of gems here, that wonderful hit “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” which with Jeter’s improvisation “I’ll be a bridge over deep water if you trust in my name” inspired Paul Simon to write “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “A Lady Called Mother” with the group chanting doo wop in the background and so by demonstrating gospel’s influence on a whole era of street corner harmonisers, an impeccable version of “The Lord’s Prayer” every bit as good as the Blind Boys Of Mississippi’s rendition of an earlier era, plus many more gems which show the Swans’ impeccable grasp of harmony and rhythm. Truly classic.
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