Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Thunderbolt of the Middle West
Genres: Pop, Christian, Gospel
The Thunderbolt of the Middle West
R. Weinstock | Falls Church, VA USA | 04/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first time I heard this Brother Joe May Specialty album, (reviewed in Jazz & Blues Report in the November 1993 issue) I was overwhelmed. Here was as powerful a singer as I had heard and if not religious, I could not help but be impressed by the fervor as well as his power in the performances. Concord has acquired Fantasy (and Specialty) and this CD is still in print and this should be readily available.
Fantasy Records not only has a fine series of reissues from the Specialty rhythm and blues catalog, but also the equally invaluable Legends of Specialty Gospel series. Space limitations prevents as extensive coverage of all these releases that they deserve. One recent release in particular stands out with one of the most remarkable singers of any genre that America has ever heard. Thunderbolt of the Middle West spotlights Brother Joe May, with guest appearances by Sister Wyonna Carr, the Pilgrim Travelers, and, on the live recording of Old Ship of Zion that opens this collection, Charles Brown on organ and the Sallie Martin Singers. It isn't simply his range, it is, as the annotators state, his uncanny sense of dynamics and vocal projection that leave their mark on the listener. His vocals go from a gentle recitation to a soaring affirmation of his beliefs that make his renditions of Thomas Dorsey's "How Much More of Life's Burden Can We Bear" or "I'm Gonna Live the Life I Sing About in My Song", so compelling. In addition to his powerful singing, there are also a dozen or so songs from the late gospel composer. Brother Joe May was firmly committed to gospel music, and resisted efforts to have him make secular recordings. If he had crossed over, he would have been one of the rhythm'n'blues artists recently honored with a stamp by the postal service. (I originally wrote this review when the Postal Service issued several stamps of the likes of Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Muddy Waters, and Robert Johnson.)"
My Lord! What a voice!
miditrax | USA | 05/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was while searching for classic Gospel clips and listening to the Davis Sisters sing "YOU'RE GONNA NEED HIM" on YouTube that I first heard this INCREDIBLE voice. Spanning a career in the 1940's-60's, Brother Joe May was basically a "Sanctified Blues Shouter", singing in the same Chicago church milieu that produced Aretha Franklin. In his prime his style and phrasing was compared to Mahalia Jackson but unlike her, he did not play the secular circuit (and thus never acheived her level of fame). As the Album title indicates, he was called the "Thunderbolt of the Midwest" but with a full-throated range extending past C4 I like to think of him as the "Gospel Caruso" !
Highlights of this collection include a bluesy 6/8 rendition of OUR FATHER (not the usual tune for the Lord's Prayer). I don't have the album (yet!) but I downloaded this cut from Wynona Carr's DRAGNET FOR JESUS on iTunes. There's another collection, WHEN GOSPEL WAS GOSPEL, that features selections from lots of the old Gospel Greats like Mahalia, Rosetta Tharpe, the Davis Sisters, Marion Williams and others..."