Thanks for the kind wishes on our marriage, we had a great couple of weddings and a week of bliss in San Diego and La Jolla which was just what was needed after a couple of months of insanity trying to close on the house and planning the wedding.
I picked up the new Dust To Digital set Take Me To The Water: Immersion Baptism In Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950 last week and it hasn’t left my mind since then. Structured much like last years’ Victrola Favorites, Take Me To The Water focus is on the book and what a wonderful book it is – drawn from the collection of folk art archivist Jim Linderman, the book contains some just stunning photos of immersion baptism of both groups and individuals across a pretty broad timeframe. Lyrics and some notes on baptism are scattered through the book and they are insightful and well informed. The book closes with a substantial notes section on each of the songs with recording dates and a brief bio on the singers. The disc itself is quite good – and while it contains some of the same artists from Goodbye, Babylon the sides are different and fit well within the theme. It is somewhat disappointing to see the repetition of artists at all, but I feel that pool of songs that would fit thematically is already slim enough plus the disc is really just a bonus, the book stands alone as a great and important work and one that everyone should pick up.
Buy It Here
Jim Linderman’s Blog Dull Tool Dim Bulb
Carolina Tar Heels – I’ll Be Washed (1928)
Moses Mason – John The Baptist (1928)
Dark Was The Night is my favorite song of all time, let me first say that.
There is a new charity compilation by Red Hot called Dark Was The Night with a bunch of indie bands doing mostly covers , and like all things like this is pretty hit and miss. Antony (of Antony and the Johnson’s) does a great cover of the Bob Dylan B-Side “I Was Young When I Left Home” and Sharon and the Dap-Tone’s cover of Inspiration Information is equally excellent.
Kronos Quartet takes on Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark Was The Night and it leaves me confused. I’ve listened to it a dozen times or so and i can’t really pick out if i like or hate it – it’s this rambling confusing take on the side and I just can’t wrap my head around if it’s successfully or not – which isn’t a shining recommendation I know, but download and let me know what ya’ll think.
Kronos Quartet – Dark Was The Night (2009)
Daptone Records (home of the wonderful Sharon Jones, among others) head went down to Panola County, Mississippi to record local gospel singers – this record is a sampler of sorts – showcasing what he recorded and introducing some of the acts who will be releasing albums on their own later. The trip is documented here through a series of videos about each artist.
The quality over all is excellent – the arrangements are fresh and exciting and there is just no doubt the sheer power of these voices. These are my two favorites – Como Mamas ft. Mary Moore, a family group that sing with an urgency that’s not often heard in modern gospel music. M other favorite track is from the eldest members, husband and wife duo Brother and Sister Walker, on this disc and they only ones who were present during one of Lomax’s trips through their county, a trip that found Fred McDowell among others.
Como Mamas ft. Mary Moore – Trouble In My Way (2006)
Brother and Sister Walker – Help Me To Carry On (2006)
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Charlie Louvin released a new gospel album, revisited some of his classic gospel songs from his Louvin Brothers days as well as some new takes on classic standards. Overall I find the disc rather middling – it lacks the punch of last years self-titled disc that brought him back into the music. Most of the problems lie in the production that’s overly sweet for Louvin’s voice these days – but I do find his new take on “There is a Higher Power,” the only song on this disc that makes appropriate use of the gospel choir that is featured on all the tracks.
Charlie Louvin – There Is A Higher Power (2008)
Charlie Louvin – Where We’ll Never Grow Old (2008)
Sorry for avoiding the blog for a few weeks but i’ve slowly but I’ve started the slow crawl to unemployment as my work contract has unexpectedly terminated, or rather will be terminated sometime in January or February whenever I finish what I’ve been working on recently. I think I’ve come to the acceptance phase of termination and I’m pretty excited to move on to other and hopefully better employment or possibly grad school.
I am looking for recommendations on graduate schools – I’m interested in getting into a southern studies/history or a musicology program like the one at University of Memphis where I could focus on southern musical culture or history. In my brief search I’ve discover programs at both Ole Miss and University of Memphis that excite me , but I’m open and interested in other programs around the country. I’m sort of nervous about going into a music department because I’ve never taken any music courses (I was a history major in undergrad) and a lot of music programs have very daunting requirements for someone who can’t read music. But please send me your recommendation and advice to pkpatnaik at prewarblues.org
I was sent this album a few weeks ago by a reader it was released by a small british label, Mississippi, called Life is a Problem – and I can’t get it out of my head. This track in particular has really changed my mind about Utah Smith – a post-war gospel guitar player who until I heard both of his tracks on this album I thought he was so boring and all coffee shop hype. This track in particular “I Am Free” with his noisy electric blues guitar and his backing chorus with handclaps and shouts that really bring this song alive.
The two releases that I’ve heard of by this label are available for purchase here (UK) and are vinyl only.
For domestic readers of this site – Other Music stocks the album online – here.
Utah Smith – I’m Free
“Lord, I’m Troubled About My Soul” is my favorite traditional gospel song, though it does not have a deep recorded tradition as many southern gospel songs. This version is by Lillie Knox who was recorded by John Lomax on one of his Library of Congress field recording trips through South Carolina. Lillie Knox has a incredible voice – and this track recorded acapella is one of the most moving recordings I’ve ever heard.
Lille Knox – I’m Troubled About My Soul (1937)
I like the design. More than I like that Black Lips song. I will be working on a fixed or selectable resolution for those under 1280×1024. The idea behind the design was a 78 album sleeve – orange and brown (colors that also invoke honey and age) with a pre-war style design for both the bee’s and the logo. Edith Johnson’s cover for Honey Dripper Blues is the foundation from which the idea sparked and I think we accomplished the task of modernizing that style in a very respectful manner.
These tracks were recorded by Fisk University on the Mooreheed Plantation in Mississippi. The church and congregation were lead by Rev. McGhee although he doesn’ appear to be the vocal focus on any of the tracks. It is rumored that he might be the same as F.W McGhee ,but it is hard to tell from these tracks. These track feature an incredible energy – the foot stomps dominate the mix and the vocals mimic that rhythm in shape note fashion. Really incredible track for those tax day blues.
Rev. McGhee and The Church of God in Christ – No Condemnation (1941)
Rev. McGhee and The Church of God in Christ – Testimony (One Day Lord I’ll Give Up This World For You) (1941)
Rev. McGhee and The Church of God in Christ – Jesus Is My Everything (1941)
Rev. Edward Clayborn is often dismissed as being a one-dimensional guitar player and lyricist, which isn’t without merit. However, that one plodding driving bass line that underscores most of his recorded work is really good. Granted he isn’t as diverse lyrically as Rev. Gary Davis or Blind Willie Johnson, but he is good at what he does – translating Bible scripture into easily understandable music lyrics that never feel preachy or didactic.
Rev. Edward W. Clayborn – Men Don’t Forget Your Wives For Your Sweetheart (1928)
Thanks to Richard on giving a heads up on the new Sam Jackson movie Black Snake Moan, it looks fantastic and features Son House, Blind Lemon Jefferson and other pre and post war blues songs on the soundtrack. The production company is named “Southern Crosses the Dog” and it’s directed by Craig Brewer of Hustle and Flow fame. The trailer on the website makes it seem like a reverse Foxy Brown, but the description on the site itself makes it seem less seedy than that.
I still can’t get enough of Arizona Dranes – this set is easily my most listened to album this year so far.
8. Arizona Dranes – I’m Going Home On The Morning Train
9. Arizona Dranes – Lamb’s Blood Has Washed Me Clean
10. Arizona Dranes – I’m Glad My Lord Has Saved Me
11. Arizona Dranes – I Shall Wear A Crown
12. Arizona Dranes – God’s Got A Crown
13. Arizona Dranes – He Is My Story
14. Arizona Dranes – Just Look