"This is some of the most gentle, beautiful spiritual music I have ever heard. The first track of his I'd ever heard was "What are they doing in Heaven today?"- I was floored.... I feel like I'm floating off to meet my maker when I hear this stuff...
Washington Phillips was a man who forged his own style out of playing what is thought to be a dolceola; there is some debate as to what exact zither-style instruments he played.. Regardless he had the voice of an angel and the accompaniment is harp-like and sublime..."
Timeless, incredible music
Randy F Hall | Roseville, CA USA | 10/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Washington Phillips had a short but amazing recording career. He recorded 18 tracks between 1927 and 1929. Only 16 of those records survived and all are included on this collection. It is some of the most beautiful, passionate music I have ever heard. I first heard Washington Phillips during Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour. He played the song "Denomination Blues" and I became an immediate fan. It's simply amazing to me that these songs are nearly 80 years old and are some of the most enthralling songs I've ever heard. I can't believe that I made it to 35 before hearing this. Thanks, Bob!! This is true gospel music. It doesn't feel forced or contrived but rather truly inspired (this coming from someone not particularly religous). The last four songs on this CD were not recorded by Washington Phillips. They are bonus tracks by Mamie and A.C. Forehand and were recorded in 1927. They are a great fit for this album - beautiful and stunning. This CD is a great find and I urge you to check it out!"
C. Williamson | Hopkins, SC USA | 10/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Washington Philips is indeed a rare gem. I have had this recording for years and it never ceases to amaze. Among the gospel/blues street preachers, few have been as influential.
The way these preachers worked was this: They would play music on the street until they had gathered a crowd, and when it got big enough they would stop and preach for a while as the crowd dwindled away. Then they would repeat the process. Other extremely fine artists who operated this way included Rev. Gary Davis and Blind Willie Johnson, both guitar players.
"Tatler" was recorded by both Linda Ronstadt and Ry Cooder. I first head "A Mother's Dying Words" played by the Critton Hollow Stringband about 25 years ago. "Denomination Blues" has been recorded by a great many bluegrass and traditional groups, including the Stanley Brothers (re-named "Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan").
They don't tell here about the unusual instrument he played, called a "dulceola". It was produced for a short time back in the 20s-30s along with many other variations of the European zither, the only surviving one being the autoharp. The dulceola was very much like an autoharp except that instead of having buttons to press for various chords there was a tiny keyboard. The only other one I have heard/seen being played is by a street musician in Prague, Czech Republic. I actually gave him a copy of Washington Philips on a subsequent trip and he loved it. He had never heard anybody else play a dulceola.
Washington Phillips was a great player, singer and composer. Glad that Yazoo continues to keep his music in print."
suits_me | Philadelphia - miss Boston's Jordan Hall | 06/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is strange, tremulous and reverent music, meant in the best sense of those words. It could almost be thought of as the musical equivalent of being in a floatation tank, yet with the strangeness quotient keeping at bay any sense of that soporific, spineless New Age quality. The samples you can find will tell you, however, that the cuts are similar to one another, and lack much sense of dynamic range or shading. For this reason, I'd say the additional, tracks from similarly evangelical peers of Washington Phillips do add to the CD, even as they break a bit with the feel of the proceedings."