Saturday, July 4, 2009

Quick bits of Louisiana Gospel

So I've been sorta hinting at how I want to break into Gospel a bit. I haven't really ever considered myself Christian except by birth as it clashed with my preteen love of dinosaurs, but I find it hard to take issue with the passionate hollerin' that comes out of (black) gospel music. 

So for a class I decided to a do a presentation on it for my final project. I'm not exactly an expert now, but I found some pretty stomp-worthy stuff. And I'm about to give you a real quick tour. Most of this stuff is actually pretty basic and blogged about in plenty of places, but I'm willing to guess that a lot of y'all are just as dumb as I was about this stuff. I'm not attempting a full-on history lesson here, just sharing some stuff that y'all might like.

Booker records = hot: It was mostly a one-man operation, started out as rhythm and blues but went gospel after just a few. I've got a pretty good 45 of normal semi-musical sermoning off there but the real hot thing is Rev. Charlie Jackson. Think male Sister Rosetta Tharpe. I know, that's no more appealing than female SRT, but more Tharpe in any form is welcome in my book.

God's Got It
Wrapped Up And Tangled Up In Jesus

Apparently learned guitar from a cousin growing up in Alabama. His mom told him he can't play blues during the week and church music on the weekends, and in a move so un-rock&roll it's rock & roll, he listened to his mother, played only religious music and became a minister. Later he went to Louisiana and headed up a church in Amite LA.

So while he was hangin' out over there he met Elder Utah Smith. Utah's only barely Louisiana related, as he ran around touring all over the country and eventually ran his whole operation out of New Jersey. But who cares, because again Think Male Sister Rosetta Tharpe

This song is sort of his theme song because he would perform with two big ol' wings on his back. And if you couldn't tell, he liked to play LOUD. So when he would come around to middle-a-nowhere towns with no power, he would plug his amp into a car battery and perform that way.

So Mahalia Jackson is probably one of the first names you'll hear of in gospel, so I'm not going to bother finding her funkiest track. But I will prove to you that she's funky, despite how clean people try to keep her image. According to a book I was reading, she started up a fried chicken chain in competition to KFC (pure New Orleans) and was quoted saying "The Colonal says his chicken is finger lickin' good... well I think mine is tongue-lickin' good"Personally, this new light on the New Orleans gospel queen got her records back on my platter lickety-split.

And in case you've never heard of her, there's another New Orleans queen of soul.

Really, gospel is a strange genre to follow, as a lot of good albums were very locally circulated, often just among church members, and there's no real cohesive history (a good thing I think, since most rock&roll histories are incomplete and biased (though it would impossible to tell it right)). But what this means is that blind purchases really aren't such a bad thing. One such blind purchase that paid off is this weirdo.

So while this album is purchaseable purely by diner rules (i.e. if it looks that ugly, the food/album must be great), it's also worth noting the names Milton Battiste, Dejean's Olympia Brass Band, and Frank Minyard MD. (coroner!). Unfortunately, in the few weeks that I've had this album I've been irresponsible and there's a big old scratch on Frank Minyard's part and a few others, so I'll hold off on the whole album, but the best two songs are doin' fine.
Jesus What A Wonderful Child
(I Found Out It Was) the Holy Ghost
This is sitting in a strange middle ground between foot-stompin' big choral gospel, second-line music, and occasionally funk. It's fun.

I could throw a few more in there but this is already one of my longer posts and at the rate I've been making new posts I need to save material. And don't worry, I'll give you some straight rock & roll before I drop another gospel on ya. And if you want more right now, here's a youtube playlist I hastily made a few weeks ago.

Further recommendations are always ok, and hopefully I'll clean this up post-July 4th.