Archive for the ‘God Grooves’ Category

Saved! Vol. 6 – The Angels edition

April 1st, 2022 12 comments

Angels cover

Recently I stumbled on this mix from 2015, ad found I enjoyed it very much. And with Easter approaching, the subject matter of angels seems to fit. Originally this mix was part of ther SAVED! series, even though this lot of songs is not particularly riffing on religious themes, even though angels are very much part of religious (and pagan) dogma.

So this mix of songs addresses the subject of angels from different perspectives: as those ethereal beings with wings, of course, but also as goodhearted people, love interests and metaphors. Unlike the angels in heavy metal, who must either bleed or fall or are evil, those represented here mostly are doing saving through acts of love — and that also suits the theme of Easter.

And I managed to cobble together this mix without resort to Robbie Williams, U2, The Eurythmics or Sarah MacLachlan, nor songs about one-night stands. I even had to leave some good songs out. What is remarkable, though, is that three songs about angels here were released posthumously: those by Jimi Hendrix, Gram Parsons and Hank Williams.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-winged covers. PW in comments.

1. Jimi Hendrix – Angel (1970)
2. The Black Crowes – She Talks To Angels (1990)
3. Delbert McClinton – Sending Me Angels (1997)
4. Aretha Franklin – Angel (1973)
5. Abba – Like An Angel Passing Through My Room (1981)
6. Martina McBride – Wild Angels (1995)
7. Glen Campbell – Angel Dream (2008)
8. Rilo Kiley – The Angels Hung Around (2007)
9. Jordan Trotter – Angels By My Side (2008)
10. Mindy Smith – Angel Doves (2004)
11. Cry Cry Cry – Speaking With The Angel (1998)
12. Jack Johnson – Angel (2008)
13. Chris Rea – God Gave Me An Angel (2000)
14. David Sylvian – When Poets Dreamed Of Angels (1987)
15. Emmylou Harris – Angel Band (1987)
16. Bob Dylan – Three Angels (1970)
17. Kris Kristofferson – Hall Of Angels (2009)
18. The Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys – Angel Band (1955)
19. Hank Williams – Angel Of Death (rel. 1954)
20. Edna Gallmon Cooke – Angels, Angels, Angels (c. 1950)
21. The Crew-Cuts – Angels In The Sky (1955)
22. Bobby Helms – You Are My Special Angel (1958)
23. The Louvin Brothers – The Angels Rejoiced Last Night (1959)


Previous SAVED! mixes

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Any Major Churches

April 18th, 2019 4 comments

I had no plans to post anything special for Easter, since the Saved! series had run its course. But the fire in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, a place I’ve visited several times, moved me to make a mix of songs about churches. It is not a Saved! mix because the songs here don’t necessarily speak of religious faith. In some songs, such as California Dreaming or For Emily, the churches are just incidental in the narrative.

What has emerged is a remarkably eclectic mix which covers all sorts of things, from French chanson to hip hop, from funk to country, from blues to indie rock. Any Major Dude With Half A Heart is a broad church.

The mix kicks off with a song about Notre-Dame, and the Paris theme returns later with Tift Merrit’s song which references the church of St Sulpice, which also caught fire, though less destructive, this year.

The story of the Johnny Cash song is quite extraordinary: it was written by one of the inmate at Folsom Prison about the jail chapel, “a house of worship in this den of sin”. Apparently the inmate who wrote it, 32-year-old Glen Sherley, sat in the front-row at the Folsom Prison concert, not knowing that Cash would perform his song. Sherley, who was serving time for armed robbery, never caught the curve, despite Cash’s attempts at helping him. In 1978 he died of suicide.

As always, the ix is time to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-hallelujahed covers. PW in comments.

For those who believe, I wish you a Happy Easter. For those who don’t, Happy Feast of the Easter Bunny.

1. Edith Piaf – Notre-Dame de Paris (1952)
2. Ann Cole – In The Chapel (1956)
3. Johnny Rivers – Mountain Of Love (1964)
4. Honey Cone – Sunday Morning People (1971)
5. Box Tops – I Met Her In Church (1967)
6. Lyle Lovett – Church (1992)
7. Drive-By Truckers – Late For Church (1998)
8. Tift Merritt – Tender Branch (2008)
9. Eels – In The Yard, Behind The Church (2005)
10. Ben Harper and The Five Blind Boys of Alabama – Church House Steps (2004)
11. Outkast – Church (2003)
12. James Brown – Bodyheat (1976)
13. Lee Moses – California Dreaming (1971)
14. David Egan – Bourbon In My Cup (2008)
15. Robert Patterson Singers – Crying In The Chapel (1967)
16. Simon & Garfunkel – For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her (1970)
17. Johnny Cash – Greystone Chapel (1969)
18. Porter Wagoner – I’ll Meet You In Church Sunday Morning (1964)
19. Ella Fitzgerald – The Church In The Wildwood (1967)
20. Frank Sinatra – Winchester Cathedral (1966)
21. The Willows – Church Bells Are Ringing (1956)
22. John Lee Hooker – Church Bell Tone (1959)


Previous SAVED! mixes
Saved! Vol. 1 (Elvis Presley, Carter Family, LaVern Baker, Marvin Gaye…)
Saved! Vol. 2: Soul edition (Curtis Mayfield, The Supremes, The Trammps,  Jerry Butler…)
Saved! Vol. 3 (Prefab Sprout,  Wilco, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds…)
Saved! Vol. 4 (Sam Cooke, Dixie Hummingbirds, Dinah Washington, Jerry Lee Lewis…)
Saved! Vol. 5 (Donny Hathaway, Holmes Brothers,  Steve Earle, The Bar-Kays…)
Saved! Vol. 6: Angels edition (Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Rilo Kiley, Kris Kristofferson…¦)
Saved! Vol. 7: Soul edition (Earth, Wind & Fire, Billy Preston, Marlena Shaw, Al Green…)
Best of Saved!

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Any Major Decade: Best of Saved!

April 13th, 2017 10 comments

Over the past years it has become a tradition to for me to post a mix of songs about the Christian faith in the week before Easter. Predictably, they tend to be the least popular of mixes, by number of downloads (those who DL them tend to give great feedback).

I don’t now know whether it is because the subject matter is of no interest to some people, or because readers think I’m going all-born Christian Rock on their sorry asses. If it’s a case of the former: it’s about the music, not about conversion! Some of the best music has been about religious faith, from Bach to Mary Lou Williams to the Carter Family. And if it’s a case of the latter, you might not have followed this blog carefully. The music on the SAVED! mixes is great.

Unlike a lot of Christian Rock, what we get when artists in popular music address religious themes is absolute authenticity. That is true for the gospel singers of the 1940s and 1950s, who were as sure influential on the rise of rock & roll, as a musical form, as was R&B and country. Take Sister Rosetta Tharpe or Brother Joe May out of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard, and you remove an essential ingredient in their music.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Take away gospel, and rock & roll is a different thing.


The same goes for soul. The soul singers who modelled themselves after Sam Cooke drew their inspiration not from the crossover crooning in the mould of Twisting The Night Away of You Send Me. They modelled themselves on Gospel Sam. And perhaps the terminology of gospel needs to be redefined, if by that term most people think of massed choirs in flowing robes.

We have no flowing robes here, though there is a place for that too. We have soul singers, though. There was a time when soul singers recorded songs about their faith as a matter of course. They did so, the sequencing of these songs on the LPs suggests, not as a calculated nod to the folks who like that kind of thing, but because it was naturally part of their lives.

Then you get the surprise performances. Nick Cave has sung a few songs of religious content; The Mercy Seat, so incredibly covered by Johnny Cash, is one such song. Here we have Cave singing almost hymn-like about Jesus Christ in a most unexpected way. Cave is not a religious man of the traditional sort, unlike Alison Krauss, who has the voice of an angel (in as far as I am competent to make such comparisons, given my absence of exposure to choirs of cloud-sitting, winged angels). Oh, but when she sings A Living Prayer, even the most hardened atheist must get an idea of what it must be like to be in the presence of God. The same goes for the wonderful Mindy Smith.


Angels, plotting their next massacre.


Talking of angels, in the 1942 Nazi propaganda film Die große Liebe (The Great Love), the big Swedish star Zarah Leander had a showstopper song called Ich weiß es wird einmal ein Wunder gescheh’n (I know one day there will be a miracle), the video of which is HERE. The big production required a choir of angels, stacked together like a big cake. Trouble was, the producers could not get together a plausible cast of angels that could match Leander’s extraordinary height. So they turned to casting agency Stormtroopers, dressed up a group of elite SS soldiers in ways that the producers of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert would reject as being too camp, and stacked them up like a singing cake before they were let loose again in their day job of killing for the hell of it, using guns and, unlike their colleagues in occupied Poland, not poison gas. Sean Spicer, the SS of the media room, would approve. Read more about it HERE.

This mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Alas, the folder that contained the home-made covers was on an external (as opposed to eternal) harddrive that has suddenly died; so the devil was in the works…  PW in comments.

Happy Easter, and, if that is not your thing, Happy Chocolate Day.

1. Rance Allen Group – There”s Gonna Be A Showdown (1972)
2. The Relatives – Leave Something Worthwhile (1970s)
3. Honey Cone – Sunday Morning People (1971)
4. Soul Children – All Day Preachin” (1972)
5. Elvis Presley – Run On (1967)
6. Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers – Wonderful (1959)
7. Brother Joe May – When The Lord Gets Ready (1959)
8. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – This Train (1943)
9. Marie Knight – What Could I Do (1947)
10. Spirit Of Memphis – Atomic Telephone (1952)
11. Lula Reed – Just Whisper (1954)
12. Deep River Boys – I”m Tramping (1946)
13. Carter Family – Can The Circle Be Unbroken (Bye And Bye) (1935)
14. Natalie Merchant with Karen Paris – When They Ring The Golden Bells (1998)
15. Wilco – Airline To Heaven (2005)
16. Tom Waits – Come Up To The House (1999)
17. Pops Staples – Hope In A Hopeless World (1994)
18. Steve Earle – God Is God (2011)
19. Mindy Smith – Come To Jesus (2004)
20. Alison Krauss – A Living Prayer (2004)
21. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Bless His Ever Loving Heart (2005)
22. The Chambers Brothers – Travel On My Way (1970)
23. The Glass House – Touch Me Jesus (1971)
24. Loleatta Holloway – H.E.L.P. M.E. M.Y. L.O.R.D. (1975)


Previous SAVED! mixes
Saved! Vol. 1 (Elvis Presley, Carter Family, LaVern Baker, Marvin Gaye”¦)
Saved! Vol. 2: Soul edition (Curtis Mayfield, The Supremes, The Trammps,  Jerry Butler”¦)
Saved! Vol. 3 (Prefab Sprout,  Wilco, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Lyle Lovett”¦)
Saved! Vol. 4 (Sam Cooke, Dixie Hummingbirds, Dinah Washington, Jerry Lee Lewis”¦)
Saved! Vol. 5 (Donny Hathaway, Holmes Brothers,  Steve Earle, The Bar-Kays”¦)
Saved! Vol. 6: Angels edition (Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Rilo Kiley, Kris Kristofferson”¦)
Saved! Vol. 7: Soul edition (Earth, Wind & Fire, Billy Preston, Al Jarreau, Marlena Shaw, Al Green”¦.)

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Saved! Vol. 7 – Soul edition 2

March 24th, 2016 10 comments

Saved Vol 7

Some years ago I presented a militantly atheist friend with a collection of gospel songs. I thought I was being mischievous, for my friend regarded people with religion as mentally disturbed and their intellect unworthy of his respect. Blaise Pascal? An idiot! Martin Luther King? A fool!

To my surprise, he loved the gospel music. In fact, he said, he prefers listening to singers deliver their lyrics, even if these are misguided, with the authenticity of their convictions. It adds to the listening experience to hear singers express the words they wholeheartedly believe, he said.

My atheist friend would like this seventh part in the Saved! series “” which by dint of its subject matter seems to be the least popular of my series of mixes “” in which soul singers sing about their faith. As a companion piece to Saved! Volume 2 – The Soul Edition, it is indeed a great listen. Just check out the slow-burning funk of the Bohannon track!

With George Martin”s death this month, the old debate of who the “Fifth Beatle” was resurfaced. There is a really obvious answer: it is Billy Preston, the only non-Beatle ever credited as having played on Beatles records. Preston was a good friend of George Harrison, whose My Sweet Lord he was the first to record. Harrison also produced and played on Preston”s 1969 LP, That’s The Way God Planned It. The title track features here, with Eric Clapton and Harrison doing guitar duties, Ginger Baker on drums, and Keith Richard on bass. Preston obviously does his own organ work. What a supergroup!

Kay Robinson is not famous, though she had a great vocal range and a belting voice. Her 1970 album We Need Time, from where we get This Old World, was produced by James Brown. Also benefitting from a great producer were The Emotions, who Blessed (like many of their sings) was co-written by the late Maurice White, who also features on the opening track by Earth, Wind & Fire.

And if you think all this is getting a bit to pious, look at the title of Marlena Shaw“s track that closes this collection: Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?.

So, for those who believe Happy Easter, and for those who don”t, Happy Feast of the Easter Bunny.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes miraculous covers. PW in comments.

1.  Earth, Wind & Fire – Open Our Eyes (1974)
2.  The Glass House – Heaven Is There To Guide Us (1971)
3.  The Rance Allen Group – God Is Where It’s At (1972)
4.  Bohannon – Save Their Souls (1973)
5.  Billy Preston – That’s The Way God Planned It (1969)
6.  Dorothy Morrison – All God”s Children Got Soul (1970)
7.  The Chambers Brothers – Travel On My Way (1970)
8.  Mitty Collier – I Had A Talk With God Last Night (1972)
9.  Al Green – Glory Glory (1977)
10. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Come Ye Disconsolate (1972)
11. The O’Jays – Prayer (1976)
12. The Emotions – Blessed (1977)
13. The New Birth – We Are All God’s Children (1976)
14. Stevie Wonder – Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away (1974)
15. Kay Robinson – This Old World (1970)
16. Leon Ware – The Spirit Never Dies (1972)
17. Al Jarreau – Could You Believe? (1977)
18. Marlena Shaw – The Lord Giveth and The Lord Taketh Away (1974)


Previous SAVED! mixes
Saved! Vol. 1 (Elvis Presley, Carter Family, LaVern Baker, Marvin Gaye and more…)
Saved! Vol. 2: Soul edition 1 (Curtis Mayfield, The Supremes, The Trammps,  Jerry Butler and more…)
Saved! Vol. 3 (Prefab Sprout,  Wilco, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Lyle Lovett and more…)
Saved! Vol. 4 (Sam Cooke, Dixie Hummingbirds, Dinah Washington, Brother Joe May,  Jerry Lee Lewis and more…)
Saved! Vol. 5 (Donny Hathaway, Holmes Brothers,  Steve Earle, The Bar-Kays and more…)
Saved! Vol. 6: Angels edition (Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Rilo Kiley, Kris Kristofferson and more…)

Categories: 70s Soul, God Grooves Tags:

Saved! Vol. 5

April 17th, 2014 12 comments

Saved Vol 5

It”s Easter, which signals the arrival of another Saved! mix. Last year’s mix covered the 1950s, with both gospel and secular acts doing their praising. This mix has only two gospel acts, The Rance Allen Group and The Relatives, both doing their praising in the easy of soul/funk music.

Rance Allen and his pals convert Archie Bell & the Drells’s song about a dancing contest, the promised showdown will be righteous. The Relatives have featured before, Saved! Vol. 2, which was all soul music. The gospel-funk-soul group recorded in the first half of the 1970s in Texas. Led by the Reverend Gean West, they released just three singles. “Leave Something Worthwhile” remained unreleased until the small Hum Records label put out a collection of The Relatives’ released and unreleased material in 2009. Buy it HERE.

Among all the 1950s acts on Saved! Vol. 4 were The Staple Singers, with a track from 1959. Two of them return on this mix with a track from 1994. Pops co-wrote “Hope In A Hopeless World” for his 1994 album Father Father, and duets on it with daughter Mavis. Had Pops left her off, a Mavis Staples might have featured from last year”s very good On True Vine album, another Jeff Tweedy production.

That song might have been opener “Holy Ghost”, which is not the same song as the funk work by The Bar Kays featured here. The Bar Kays’ song is seriously funky, and features a great drumming outro. And for a fantastic drum break, check out Chi Coltrane‘s version of The Clique”s 1969 song. I don’t know who the drummer was. It could have been any of Jim Keltner, Steve Parsons, Barry De Souza, Chris Karen or, indeed, Jim Gordon (who, of course, was the subject of two mixes recently).

We encountered The 8th Day recently on the Any Major Soul 1971 mix. Their contribution to that mix was really 100 Proof (Aged in Soul) by another name. After the pseudonymous group had attracted some notice, label owners Holland-Dozier-Holland formed a proper 8th Day; it is from that incarnation that we hear the very funky “Heaven Is Here To Guide Us”, a track which labelmates The Glass House had recorded a year earlier.


South African singer and songwriter John Kongos is better known for being the original singer of The Happy Mondays’ 1990 hit Step On (though in his version it is “He’s Gonna Step On You Again”) and “Tokoloshe Man” than he is for doing religion. “Come On Down Jesus” might have been one of those Jesus songs that were fashionable in the days when Jesus Christ Superstar hit — as was Barry Ryan”s “Sanctus, Sanctus Hallelujah”, featured here, or The Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus Is All Right”. But several of Kongos’ lyrics can be interpreted as having a Christian subtext.

Finally, Billy Preston‘s version of “My Seet Lord” is the original recording of the song. Written in December 1969, it first appeared on Preston’s Encouraging Words album, which also included Harrison”s “All Things Must Pass” (a song which the Beatles had considered of recording), almost a year before that song would provide the title of the triple-LP set.

Preston”s version is much closer to Harrison”s original concept than the composer”s own take. In his defence during the My Sweet Lord/He’s So Fine plagiarism case, Harrison said that he was inspired not by early-’60s girlband pop, but by the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ 1969 hit “Oh Happy Day”. That influence is acutely apparent on Preston’s recording, but less so on Harrison’s chart-topper. Indeed, had Preston scored the big hit with it, not Harrison, it might have been Ed Hawkins initiating the plagiarism litigation.

As always the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-praised covers. PW in comments. Happy Easter/Excessive Chocolate Consumption Day!

1. Chi Coltrane – Hallelujah (1974)
2. The Rance Allen Group – There’s Gonna Be A Showdown (1972)
3. The Relatives – Leave Something Worthwhile (1970s)
4. Donny Hathaway – Lord Help Me (1973)
5. Pops Staples – Hope in a Hopeless World (1994)
6. The Persuasions – Dry Bones (2000)
7. Ben Harper & Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Picture Of Jesus (2003)
8. The Holmes Brothers – I Surrender All (1995)
9. Steve Earle – God Is God (2011)
10. Mindy Smith – Out Loud (2006)
11. Amos Lee – Cup Of Sorrow (2011)
12. Patty Griffin – We Shall Be Reunited (2010)
13. Dolly Parton – Shine On (1998)
14. Barry Ryan – Sanctus, Sanctus Hallelujah (1972)
15. John Kongos – Come On Down Jesus (1971)
16. The 8th Day – Heaven Is Here To Guide Us (1973)
17. The Bar-Kays – Holy Ghost (1978)
18. Curtis Mayfield – A Prayer (1974)
19. Billy Preston – My Sweet Lord (1970)
20. Tashan – Thank You Father (1987)


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Saved! Vol. 4

March 28th, 2013 3 comments

Another Easter, another mix of Christian music. This fourth volume of the Saved! series covers gospel, R&B, country and a hint of jazz in the 1950s and early ’60s. Some of the artists are well-known gospel outfits (such as Claude Jeter’s Swan Silvertones, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Brother Joe May, Clara Ward), others are quite obscure (such as the Friendly Brothers). Gospel groups used to be a breeding ground for later soul stars: Sam Cooke was a gospel singer, of course. On this mix we meet Johnny Taylor — who two decades later would sing about the Disco Lady — as a member of the Highway QC’s. And in The Gospel Stars we have not only Motown’s first gospel outfit, but also the stars of the young label’s very first LP.

Other artists are very well known, though they are not usually thought of as purveyors of Christian music. It is no revelation, of course, that rock & roll pioneers Elvis, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis were men of deep faith, but also featured here are Charlie Rich, Patsy Cline and Dinah Washington, whose religious faith did not feature prominently in the public image.

Lula Reed has been largely forgotten, which is a shame. She was the first performer of the soul classic Drown In My Own Tears, and recorded both secular and sacred music. She could be described as a soul pioneer who retired from secular music before the genre really took off. She refused all offers to record a soul album. Lula Reed died in 2008 at the age of 82.

Of all acts featured here, The Prisonaires have the best story. As their name suggests, they were inmates at a Tennessee jail. Sun Records’ Sam Philips heard of their jailhouse music and recorded them, including their song Crying In The Rain, which later became a huge hit for Johnny Ray. The Prisonaires even performed, under guard, at the mansion of Tennessee’s governor.

And then there is the catchy Do Lord by the unwieldily named quartet of Jane Russell, Connie Haines, Beryl Davis, Della Russell (their alternative name, The Four Girls, never really caught on). Yes, it is that Jane Russell, actress and friend of Marilyn Monroe, who was a devout Catholic, and roped in fellow stars into a Christian Hollywood society, whence her singing group appeared. Davis and Haines were big band singers, though Haines appeared in a few films. Della Russell was the singer wife of crooner Andy Russell, with whom she regularly appeared in TV in the 1950s.Actress Rhonda Fleming was also a member of that group, though not on Do Lord.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-baptised covers. If you believe, have a happy Easter inspired by this mix; if you don’t, enjoy the chocolates and the music on this collection of fine music.

1. Zeb Turner – Why Don’t You Haul Off And Get Religion (1950)
2. The Spirit Of Memphis – Atomic Telephone (1952)
3. Brother Joe May – When The Lord Gets Ready (1959)
4. The Staple Singers – I Know I Got Religion (1959)
5. Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers – Jesus, Wash Away My Troubles (1955)
6. Clara Ward & The Ward Singers – Faith That Moves Mountains (1953)
7. The Chosen Gospel Singers – Watch Ye Therefore (1954)
8. The Friendly Brothers – You Can’t Even Thumb A Ride (1959)
9. The Dixie Hummingbirds – Devil Can Harm A Praying Man (1959)
10. Lula Reed – Just Whisper (1954)
11. Sister Wynona Carr – The Ball Game (3:04)
12. Little Richard – Every Time I Feel The Spirit (1959)
13. The Pilgrim Travelers – I’ve Got A New Home (1953)
14. The Zion Travelers – A Soldier Of The Cross (1957)
15. The Orioles – Deacon Jones (1950)
16. The Prisonaires – My God Is Real (1953)
17. Elvis Presley – It Is No Secret (What God Can Do) (1959)
18. The Louvin Brothers – The Great Atomic Power (1952)
19. Patsy Cline – Life”s Railway To Heaven (1959)
20. Dinah Washington – Lord, You Made Us Human (1960)
21. Louis Armstrong – Ezekiel Saw Da Wheel (1958)
22. Jane Russell, Connie Haines, Beryl Davis, Della Russell – Do Lord (1954)
23. Ken Carson feat. Hal Kanner – Wond’rous Word (Of The Lord) (1951)
24. Jess Willard – Boogie Woogie Preaching Man (1951)
25. Hank Williams – Thank God (released 1956)
26. Charlie Rich – Big Man (1959)
27. Jerry Lee Lewis – When The Saints Go Marching In (1959)
28. The Swan Silverstones – Jesus Remembers (1956)
29. The Highway QC’s – Somewhere To Lay My Head (1955)
30. The Gospel Stars – Make Everything Alright (1961)

(PW in comments)*
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Saved! Vol. 3

April 5th, 2012 6 comments

With Easter approaching, here’s a third mix of songs that relate in some way or another to the Christian faith, following the Saved! 1 and Saved! 2 mixes. The first drew from verious ages and genres of music, the second comprised soul musicians doing God music. This lot comes from rock, folk, country and indie backgrounds.

Some artists featured here are devout believers, some are sceptics, some are people one wouldn’t necessarily have down as being even remotely religious. Most are original songs, a few are covers (for example, Wilco covers Woody Guthrie, and Emmylou Harris covers Bob Dylan). All are, in my view, beautifully performed. And even the most devout atheist must feel what it feels like to have faith when they hear Alison Krauss’ voice on A Loving Prayer.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-sanctified covers. To those who believe, have a happy Easter; to those who don’t, enjoy the chocolates and this excellent mix.

1. Prefab Sprout – Earth, The Story So Far (2009)
2. Wilco – Airline To Heaven (live) (2005)
3. Bap Kennedy – Please Return To Jesus (2012)
4. Mindy Smith – Come To Jesus (2004)
5. Tift Merritt – Tender Branch (2008)
6. Emmylou Harris – Every Grain Of Sand (1995)
7. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Bless His Ever Loving Heart (2001)
8. Natalie Merchant with Karen Paris – When They Ring The Golden Bells (1998)
9. Sufjan Stevens – To Be Alone With You (2001)
10. Iron & Wine – Jezebel (2005)
11. Rosanne Cash – God Is In the Roses (2006)
13. Lyle Lovett – Church (1992)
14. Johnny Cash – Oh, Bury Me Not (1994)
15. Ralph Stanley – He Suffered For My Reward (2011)
16. Maria Doyle Kennedy & Kieran Kennedy – To The Work (2011)
17. Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band – Pilgrim (1999)
18. Alison Krauss – A Living Prayer (2004)
19. The Welcome Wagon – But For You Who Fear My Name (2008)

GET IT! (PW in comments)

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Saved! Vol. 2 – The Soul edition

July 13th, 2011 6 comments

The second SAVED! compilation gets righteous on your asses with a churchful of glorious ’70s soul — and it does so without going for the easy option of all those Stevie Wonder songs about God being a zillion lightyears away with whom you should have a talk (and did George Michael realise that he was singing a song of praise to God when he had a hit with Mary J Blige?).

While neither Stevie, Aretha nor Marvin feature here, Al Green does, though with a song that precedes his lesser Reverend Green phase. And, of course, Curtis Mayfield testifies, in his ways of social consciousness.

Most acts here did the Christian thing on the side; some of them may even be unexpected inclusions, such as soul songbirds Honey Cone, the legendary O’Jays, future disco diva Loleatta Holloway, Disco Inferno’s The Trammps, funksters The Bar Keys or William DeVaughn, whose Be Thankful For What You Got (featured in Any Major Soul 1974-75) is one of the widely forgotten giants of ’70s soul.

However, a couple of acts here did specialise in gospel music (remember, the genre is much broader than flamboyantly robed brethren clapping their hands or Winans knock-offs testifying in the glib ways of contemporary Christian music). The coolest of those was The Relatives. The gospel-funk-soul group recorded in the first half of the 1970s in Texas. Led by the Reverend Gean West, they released just three singles, and didn’t appear on CD until the small Hum Records label put out a collection of their released and unreleased material in 2009. The Relatives never broke through because the music was too funky for gospel, and too sanctified for the secular market. Reverend West is now in his mid-70s, and he’s still singing and preaching.

Another gospel-soul act is Detroit’s excellent The Rance Allen Group, whom we met before on Covered With Soul Vol. 5, with their reworked version of The Temptations’ Just My Imagination (which became Just My Salvation), and in the Rapture Day special, with the astonishing There’s Gonna Be A Showdown.

The third act here specialising in Christian messages is The Sons of Truth, whose testimony was rooted in ghetto life. They recorded on Stax’s Gospel Truth subsidiary. They are not to be confused with The Soul Children, who were an act put together by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. Their lead singer John Colbert later had a solo career as J Blackfoot.

Only one track on this mix was a proper hit (though God Bless This Child, performed here beautifully by Vivian Reed, is a classic). Stoned Love was The Supremes‘ first post-Diana Ross hit. Written in 1970, the song’s writer, Kenny Thomas, said the word “stone” refers to the strength of the bond of brotherhood the lyrics are calling for. It was supposed to be “Stone Love”, which is what The Supremes are singing, but a misprint on the label turned it into “Stoned Love”, and it was left at that.

Check out the drum break in the track by Carolyn Franklin (sister of Aretha and Erma) — has it been sampled to good effect yet? I also love the drumming on Sounds of the City Experience‘s Babylon. And talking of family connections, Milton Wright is the brother of Betty Wright (and obviously not the father of flight pioneers Orville and Wilbur).

Incidentally, the brilliant Touch Me Jesus might be credited to the excellent Glass House, but it was actually recorded by The Blossoms, with Darlene Love on lead vocals (there was a legal case about it).

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R (without the bonus track, obviously). Home-made covers are included.

1. Honey Cone – Sunday Morning People (1971)
2. The Soul Children – All Day Preachin’ (1972)
3. Carolyn Franklin – Soul Man (1976)
4. Al Green – Jesus Is Waiting (1973)
5. Curtis Mayfield – I Plan To Stay Believer (1971)
6. Ernie Hines – A Better World (For Everyone) (1972)
7. Milton Wright – Job (1977)
8. The O’Jays – Make A Joyful Noise (1976)
9. The Relatives – Rap On (1974)
10. Sounds of the City Experience – Babylon (1976)
11. The Glass House – Touch Me Jesus (1971)
12. The Supremes – Stoned Love (1970)
13. The Rance Allen Group – God Is Where It’s At (1972)
14. The Sons Of Truth – God Help Us All (1972)
15. Loleatta Holloway – H.E.L.P. M.E. M.Y. L.O.R.D. (1975)
16. The Trammps – Pray All You Sinners (1972)
17. Jerry Butler – A Prayer (1972)
18. The Bar Kays – God Is Watching (1972)
19. The Impressions – Preacher Man (1973)
20. The Four Tops – The Good Lord Knows (1972)
21. Vivian Reed – God Bless The Child (1976)
22. William DeVaughn – We Are His Children (1974)
BONUS TRACK: Donny Hathaway – Thank You Master (For My Soul) (1970)

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Caught up in the rapture

May 21st, 2011 5 comments

The world is ending today. In fact, it might end before I get to post this, or before you get to download these five songs. It’s the day of Rapture. And we tend to get a lot of those these days. Yesterday Any Minor Dude said to me: “You can’t predict the end of the world.” Like the pedantic shit that I am, I reponded: “Oh, you can predict. You can always make a prediction, but most likely you’ll be wrong if you try and predict the last day of the world.” So whichever crazy cult said the world would end on 21 May will probably have made a wrong prediction. They’ll certainly feel pretty stupid if the world ends on Monday.

In any case, if the world were to end, it would be the Good News, because Jesus would come to save the righteous “” and by mere dint of reading this blog, you are righteous. The Rapture thing is really what others call Judgment Day. So here are a few songs riffing on that theme, in lieue of Blondie and Anita Baker.

The Rance Allen Group – There’s Gonna Be A Showdown (1972)
Great stomper by gospel-soul/funk guys who turned The Temptations Just My Imagination into Just My Salvation on Covered With Soul Vol. 5.

Johnny Cash – Redemption Day (released 2010)
Recorded shortly before his death, the devout Christian Cash gets ready for the Judgment. “There is a train that’s heading straight to heaven’s gate… And on the way, child and man and woman wait, watch and wait, for redemption day.”

Over The Rhine – The Trumpet Child (2007)
“The trumpet child will blow his horn, will blast the sky till it’s reborn. With Gabriel’s power and Satchmo’s grace, he will surprise the human race.”

The Carter Family – When Our Lord Shall Come Again (1939)
The original Carter Family turn up on radio in 1939 to sing a hymn by Johnson Oatman Jr.(1856-1922) with music by R.L. Ferguson. “When upon the clouds of heaven Christ shall come to earth again; will the world be glad to see Him, when our Lord shall come again?”

Arizona Dranes – He’s Coming Soon (late 1920s)
Early gospel-blues legend makes a prediction. If the world ends today, she’ll be just 80-something years late.

Saved! Vol. 1

April 20th, 2011 6 comments

Easter is coming, so it seems righteous to post the first in a series of great Christian music that, I hope, will lift the spirits of the believer, and make those who don’t believe wish they would, if even for the duration of a song.

This mix comprises gospel, soul, blues, funk and country, stretching from the late 1920s to the early 1970s. Some of the featured artists will be better known in other genres, some of them got their start in gospel music. Among them is Sly Stone, who as Sylvester Stewart was a child member of The Sylvester Four, a band of brothers who in 1952 released their only single. Another child star was Shirley Caesar, whose contribution here was recorded when she was 13 years old. Now in her 70s, she is still performing.

Like the future Sly Stone, soul pioneer Ann Cole also made a start as a member of a family band, under her birthname Cynthia Coleman with The Colemanaires.

Aretha Franklin‘s secular career started slowly, with a string of unsatisfactory record in the early ’60s before she broke through on Atlantic in the latter half of that decade. Before all that, in 1957 she released an album of sacred songs, Songs Of Faith, on which Yield Not To Temptation appeared.

Before Motown produced The Temptations, The Supremes and The Four Tops there were the optimistically named Gospel Stars. He Lifted Me, released in 1961, was Motown’s first gospel record (Gordy later founded the Divinity subsidiary for religious stuff), and their debut album, even more optimistically titled The Great Gospel Stars, was the label’s first ever album release. Also recorded for Motown, Marvin Gaye‘s No Greater Love remained unreleased for 21 years till the 1986 cash-in of Marvin’s leftovers. Most of it was awful, but No Greater Love is just beautiful.

A couple of songs here were released by Sun Records. Alas, not much is known about Brother James Anderson. But The Prisonaires have featured here before, as the original performers of Johnny Ray”s Just Walkin’ In The Rain. As their name suggests, The Prisonaires were inmates, recording while they were guests of the Tennessee correctional services (more about them in The Originals Vol. 29).

The mix ends on a funky note, with The Winston’s instrumental of Jester Hairston’s Amen, the gospel number written specifically for Sydney Poitier”s character in the film Lilies Of The Field (one of the few covers recorded by The Impressions). Recorded by The Winstons in 1969 as the b-side of the Grammy-winning Color Him Father, it is said to be perhaps the most sampled record ever, specifically Gregory Coleman’s brief drum solo (at 1:23). Check out the list of some of the records that sampled the Amen break (watch the fascinating video as well).

This compilations, and those that will follow, is titled Saved!, after the track that leads the mix. Try to keep still while playing LaVerne Baker‘s thumping song; if you succeed, consult a doctor because you might well be dead.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and cover artwork is included.

1. LaVern Baker – Saved (1961)
2. The Staple Singers – Don’t Knock (1960)
3. Marie Knight – What Could I Do (1947)
4. Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers – Wonderful (1959)
5. The Sylvester Four (with Sly Stone) – Walking In Jesus Name (1952)
6. Lightnin’ Hopkins, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry – Down By The Riverside (1965)
7. Brother James Anderson – Where Can I Go (1967)
8. Elvis Presley – Run On (1967)
9. The Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama – Our Father’s Praying Ground (1970)
10. Merle Haggard & Bonnie Owens – Turn Your Radio On (1971)
11. The Louvin Brothers – The Angels Rejoiced Last Night (1961)
12. Hank Williams – (I’m Gonna) Sing, Sing, Sing (released in 1956)
13. The Carter Family – Can The Circle Be Unbroken (Bye And Bye) (1935)
14. Karl and Harty – Gospel Cannon Ball (1941)
15. Golden Gate Jubilee Quartett – Golden Gate Gospel Train (1937)
16. Barbeque Bob – When The Saints Go Marching In (1927)
17. Blind Alfred Reed – There’ll Be No Distinction There (1929)
18. Deep River Boys – I’m Tramping (1946)
19. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – This Train (1943)
20. Brother Joe May – When The Lord Gets Ready (1959)
21. Shirley Caesar – I’d Rather Serve Jesus (1951)
22. The Colemanaires – Out On The Ocean Sailing (1954)
23. The Prisionaires – Softly And Tenderly (1953)
24. Claude Jeter and the Swan Silverstones – Jesus Remembers (1956)
25. Aretha Franklin – Yield Not To Temptation (1956)
26. The Gospel Stars – He Lifted Me (1961)
27. Marvin Gaye – No Greater Love (1965)
28. Rotary Connection – Amen (1967)
29. The Winstons – Amen Brother (1969)

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