So, what is My Kind Of Gospel?

An exploration of uptempo gospel music : 1945-1965

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sacred Quartet In Action!

Side 1

Side 2

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Well, when it comes to live gospel recordings, here is the king of them all. The Statesmen Quartet On Stage, recorded at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville Tennessee. This record just explodes with energy from beginning to end. I won't be posting a lot of complete records, but this one has to be heard in its entirety. The Statesmen at this time consisted of Hovie Lister (piano, vocals), Roland 'Rosie' Rozell (tenor), Jake Hess (lead vocals), 'Big Chief' Jim Wetherington (bass) and Doy Ott (baritone). This group was to last from 1958-1963 and may be the most famous of all the lineups. I have listed the tracks in the order they appear on the LP so that you can listen to it in the order intended.

From the liner notes on the back of the LP: "One hears on every side about the enormous success of rock-and-roll shows - The mammoth crowds, the unbounded audience enthusiasm. Yet, in the face of this popularity, the fact remains that in the South rock-and-roll shows do no draw anywhere near as well as gospel sings". After listening to this LP, that would be something I have no trouble believing.......Sacred quartet in action indeed....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another from the Blue Ridge Quartet

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This is an early release by the Blue Ridge Quartet on the Gotham label. As some of you may know, Gotham has numerous black gospel releases. They also had a country/white gospel series as well. This one dates from about 1951. The Blue Ridge started on Decca in 1950, then moved to Gotham in 1950-51, putting out a total of 18 singles on the label. This is my favorite era of the Blue Ridge Quartet and I will be posting more from them over time. There was a CD reissue of several of their sides, including others, on the Gotham 400 series. You can find it here: 

This is one of the very few CD collections of obscure white gospel quartet music.

Blue Ridge Quartet on Stateswood

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Here is a favorite song from a favorite quartet. It is the Blue Ridge Quartet on the Stateswood label. Stateswood was a joint venture of the Statesmen Quartet and the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. The record dates from about 1960. The Blue Ridge Quartet first started recording in around 1950 and continued performing until the 1970's. This song is a bit unique when compared to most gospel quartet groups from this time because of the use of a lead guitar with an extended break. Just when you think it will end, it picks up and keeps going. Because of that break, this record has shown up on a few CD gospel collections over the years. It is a good one....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Off to the Bahamas....

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Well, I am going off the mainland a bit here, but this fits right in. From the Bahamas we have Evangelist J. J. Stubbs & The Region Bells of Nassau. I know nothing about this group or record. It is something I came across on eBay sometime ago and I took a chance. Something about the cover struck me as a record that was not quite in sync with its time. Being a stereo record, I am guessing it is late 1960's, but could just as well have been from the 30's. A little digging around online seems to show that there is still a group using the name "Region Bells" and that Mr. Stubbs is still singing. The guitar player in the picture is Evangelist Stubbs. The back of the LP states that the alto singer of the group, Mr. George Arthur, is often referred to as "The spaceman for high pitch alto voice". Well, there you go.....

It is July 25th, 1948 and you are tuned into WAGA in Atlanta.....

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Well, if it was 9am on July 25th, 1948...a Sunday morning, and you had tuned into WAGA, AM 590 on your Atlanta radio dial, this is what you would have been listening to. The Homeland Harmony Quartet in all their "live on the radio" glory. This track is taken from a transcription disc cut at the radio station. Recorded on July 15th of 1948, this disc was meant to be played 10 days later and then discarded. This is a one off disc, 16" in diameter. I have taken one of the five songs that are on the disc and included some radio chatter the proceeds and follows the song. This is the same group that recorded "Gospel Boogie" a year before on the White Church label. While not as polished as the records, this recording has a much clearer sound and is about as good as you will ever hear them from this era. This side of the disc is actually a second attempt at the show. On the other side they attempted to close the show with the song "Keep On The Firing Line" but things fell apart so they re-recorded the whole show.

On Trascription Disc

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In the early 1950's, the Blackwood Brothers recorded transcription discs on the World Program Service label. These were meant for radio play only and were not sold to the public. They were 16" in diameter and because of that, 99% of the population could not play them anyway.Often, and in the case of the Blackwood's on World, most of the time, these were songs that were exclusive to these discs. This particular disc comes from 1953-54. Bill Shaw is singing the lead in his crystal clear tenor. The flip side of the disc is....Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra. Now there is a pairing! 

The Blackwoods would be a major force in gospel quartet music from the early 1950's until well in the 1970's. They and the Statesmen are considered the master purveyors of the quartet sound. There will be much posted from both of these fine quartets on this site.

Southern California checking in.....

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And here I am complaining about there being a lack of decent gospel here in Southern California. What the heck is this? Coming to you from Lake Elsinore California, it is Roy and Georgia...and the So and So's. And to think, I found this at a radio station. This record at least had the possibility of being on the air. What a different, cool, joyous world that was. It boggles the mind. All that it is missing, in my opinion, is a guitar break...but other then that, it sounds like a hit to me. I have one other record on the label and it is nothing like this. The flip side "Looking Up" has the same sort of guitar sound but does not quite capture all the swampy, reverb oddness that the A side brings to the table. Not sure the date. There is a zip code listed, so late 60's is a good guess. Good job Roy, Georgia......and the So and So's.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Let's Head Down To North Carolina...

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In 1974, this LP came out of Bryson City, North Carolina. To the left you see Rev. Deaver Orr and his wife, Ms. Doris G. Orr. They released a couple of records, all in this style, which I feel compares to the Chuck Wagon Gang. Good, straight forward gospel without a lot of the peripheral elements. May not cause you to dance in the aisle, but it is heartfelt and real. Happy Voices indeed....

Artist: Happy Voices
Title: The Joy Of Knowing Jesus
Label: Recording Services RS 121
Song: The Best Is Yet To Come
Year: 1974

The Rangers Quartet

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Here is a record of the month by The Rangers Quartet which was released in 1950. The Rangers were the premier group of the early 1940's and remained strong into the early 1950's. Their bass singer, Arnold Hyles, was THE bass singer of the era ('Big' Jim Waites being right up there), and he was the primary role model of JD Sumner. Here is more info on The Rangers: The 'rough' singing style of the Rangers is not everyone's cup of tea, but I have always liked it. To bad the recording is of such poor quality. But, it is all we have. I do have some radio shows that sound better. Some of those will be put up in the future.

Denver Crumpler, the outstanding 'Irish' tenor, would go on to join the Statesmen quartet in 1953 and with his addition, the perfect quartet was formed...and would last...until his untimely death in 1957.

Ms. Elestine McDaniels

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Here is a fine record from Elestine McDaniels. Another great West Virginia gospel record, this one, with it's haunting call and response, is a classic. This is a 4 song EP and was recorded in the mid-1960's. There is a number on both the dead wax and label that is very RCA custom looking, and would date it to 1965 which would be appropriate, but it is hand written in the dead wax. Were all RCA custom records stamped? Perhaps someone could shed some light on that subject. But in the end, the year does not matter. This is a heartfelt performance that still has the power to move even with all the crackle and hiss. Ms. McDaniels recorded 2-3 records in total and was on the radio with a live show for many years. Thank you Ms. McDaniels for this heartfelt song.....

Don't Do The Dont's....Do The Do's!

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The Rebels Quartet from Tampa, Florida step up to the mic and tell us to Do The Do's in true gospel boogie fashion. This record is a late Bibletone release, most likely from 1959 or so. The Rebels were very prolific for the label, putting out 20+ records during the 50's. Sadly, the label folded soon after this release. Bibletone started as one of the first labels dedicated to religious music in about 1946, releasing collections of organ music and choirs. Then, in 1947-48, they started to release true 'gospel' music. Several groups, including personal favorites the Homeland Harmony Quartet and the Harmoneers released records during this early period. In addition, in the late 40's, there was some black gospel released on the label, but for most of the period, it was all white gospel quartets. As the 50's progressed, the releases became fewer and fewer. None the less, there were a handful of LP's that were put out in the late 50's. The numbering system used by the label, each artist getting their own series, can make dating a release difficult. This much you can label Bibletones are late 40's, yellow labels are the early 50's, RCA custom records are mid 50's (and of course, easily dated) and finally, Bibletone/G.B.S. records are late 50's. The label shut down around 1960 and sometime later, the main Bibletone offices/warehouses in New Jersey burned to the ground (under suspicious circumstances, or so I hear) and all paper records and masters were lost. 

Don't Look Now, But There Is A Meeting Tonight....

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Well, this is an oddball. I know nothing about the performers or the label. This is a 4 song EP that is fairly unimpressive, but what about that organ/piano solo! I am guessing it is the piano player who steps away and takes up the gospel tambourine for the latter half of the song. Was this what was playing to kick off the revival meeting? The recording is dodgy and seems recorded live. 

The Statesmen Quartet - About as good as it gets.....

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Here they are, from Atlanta Georgia...the Statesmen Quartet! This quartet is the best of the best. This particular song comes from their 1959 LP on Skylite, Get Away Jordan. This is their second LP on the Skylite label, a joint business between themselves and the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. They were on the RCA label at this time, but apparently had a deal where they could re-record songs and put them out on this label. I don't really understand how that all worked, but it did, for both them and the Blackwoods. There will be plenty of Statesmen posted on this site so be prepared. This song is actually tame, but a good one from a somewhat uncommon release. They originally recorded this song two times before, once on their own private label in the very late 1940's and again on Capitol in '50-'51. 

How about some G. M. Farley

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Here is a song that is a gospel standard. Written by the Gospel Ranger himself, Brother Claude Ely (who will see some posting on this blog you can be sure), and recorded for King records in the early 50's. I like this song by just about anyone, but really enjoy what G.M. Farley and the Foggy River Boys bring to the table. This is a Crown Records LP cheapy release, but that only dims the sonics, not the passion nor the power. From what I gather, this record would have been released in 1963 or so. I feel like I should know more about Mr. Farley, but I really don't. I do have other records of his on the Rural Rhythm label. Where was he was based and what years did he perform, I really don't know? Guess it is time to try and find out.

Artist: G.M. Farley and the Foggy River Boys
Title: Country Gospel
Label: Crown Records CST 344
Song: There Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down
Year: 1963

Another Quartet With Guitar....

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Here is another quartet with guitar. This one is from the famous Trumpeteers on the Score label. According to the Gospel Music Discography (which is a must by the way. Click link to order), this track was recorded on June 29th, 1953 at the RCA studio in NYC. This record featured Robert Johnson (tenor), Joseph E. Johnson and Calvin Stewart (baritone) and William "Pete" Connor (bass). This song is in the 'Jubilee' style that would lose favor by the early 50's. According to the discography, this group, with various singers, started in 1947 and lasted until 1969.

Quartet With Guitar

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The Trinity Four Quartet out of Henlawson, West Virgina. Let me just say, if you want great country gospel, West Virginia is the place to look. So many fantastic records. Thanks to it being a RCA custom pressing, we can date the record to 1961. It sounds like something from the late 40's to early 50's and reminds me of the black jubilee style singing of that era. This quartet included Lou Darmran (lead), Effie Manard (alto), Bernard Manard (tenor) and Ken Willcox (bass). The record number, TF-3415, gave me some hope that there were many more records from this quartet, but I am told that they only released two 45's with a total pressing for each being 50-100. I love the energy and I love the song. The flip side is a cover of the gospel standard, "On The Wings Of A Dove". It is records like this that make it all worthwhile.....

Here is a brief note about a show they played in 1959.

Gospel Boogie

Gospel Boogie
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Well, here it first post. Seems a bit obvious, if not a bit predictable, to post the song that is the namesake of the site. Gospel Boogie was something of a sensation at the time. Written by Lee Roy Abernathy and recorded by the Homeland Harmony Quartet in 1947, it was a hit! 

Another take, or perhaps a recording from a different session, was leased and released by King records in 1948. The song went on to be recorded by many gospel performers, white and black, sometimes under it's other title, "Everybody's Gonna Have A Wonderful Time Up There". The White Church label put out a fair number of records, some of which I am sure will turn up on this blog. The label itself seemed to last from 1947 to about 1950, if that long. This record, as well as some others from the label, including records by the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, are not all that rare and would seem to imply that sales were respectable. As for the Homeland Harmony Quartet, they were one of the major gospel quartets of the late 40's early 50's. There will be much more from this group in the future as they are a personal favorite.