Enchanting collection reinvigorates interest in this music
J. Ross | Roseburg, OR USA | 06/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Playing Time - 60:51 -- These twenty-two tracks of classic southern gospel music present much variety from the Smithsonian Folkways vaults. Dating primarily from the late 1950s and early 1960s, these songs are country or bluegrass gospel as performed and listened to by white family groups. The earliest recorded offering is "Wondrous Love," recorded in 1951 by The Old Harp Singers of Eastern Tennessee. The latest recording dates to a 1993 special meeting of the Indian Bottom Assn. of Old Regular Baptists singing "I'm Going to a City." Extensive liner notes (25 pages total) provide an introduction to the music, the 19th Century roots of the music, publishing companies, quartets, pentecostalism, modern southern gospel, song notes, and suggestions for further listening and reading..
This compilation includes songs from familiar artists such as Bill Monroe, Dock Boggs, Earnest Stoneman, Red Allen, The Lilly Brothers, Doc Watson, Country Gentlemen, and Hazel and Alice. Their work is well documented. Of special note are the many artists who are less familiar to us. It is a joy to hear such songs as "Away Over in the Promised Land" by The A.L. Phipps Family. Phipps had begun his career as a devoted fan of The Carter Family and that style of music before he starting his own record company called Pine Mountain. "No Tears in Heaven" features Kilby Snow on vocals and autoharp. "Old Country Church" is presented by Tom Morgan and others is from a 1983 Folkways recording. The DeBusk-Weaver Family's rendition of "Glory to the Lamb" also emphasizes autoharps, vocals, and guitar. From South Carolina, the Poplin Family's "River of Jordan" is sampled from a 1963 Folkways release. A 1967 cut ("He Said, If You Love Me, Feed My Sheep") attributed to the Stancer Quartet was recorded by Mike Seeger as part of a Virginia radio broadcast, but the four singers remain unidentified.
This sampler is an enchanting collection that will reinvigorate an interest in classic southern gospel music. Smithsonian Folkways is to be commended for this release, and we can only hope that more offerings from their traditional music archives are forthcoming. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)