Guitar Evangelists (1928-1951) – Full Album
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Complete Recorded Works 1928 1951
Featuring the recordings of:
Blind Benny Paris, Mrs. Paris, vocal duet; accompanied by Blind Benny Paris, guitar. Rev. I. B. Ware With Wife And Son, vocal; acc. Rev. I. B. Ware, guitar; unknown, tambourine. Blind Willie Harris, vocal / guitar. Eddie Head And His Family, vocal; acc. unknown, guitar; unknown, tambourine. Mother McCollum, vocal; accompanied by unknown, guitar; unknown, banjo on 11, 15, 16; unknown, 2nd guitar on 12, 13, 14; Her Sanctified Singers (male and female duets), vocal on 11, 15, 16. Dennis Crompton, Robert Summers, vocal duet; accompanied by own guitar duet. Sister Mathews, vocal; accompanied by James Butler, guitar. Rev. Charles White (James Butler), vocal / guitar; unknown, drums. Willie Mae Williams, vocal / guitar. Brother Willie Eason, vocal / guitar. Sister Elizabeth Phillips, vocal; accompanied by Estis King, guitar; unknown, bass; unknown, drums.
Genres; Guitar Evangelists, Gospel, Religious, Bottleneck-slide Guitar, Female Gospel,12-string Guitar, Electric Steel Guitar
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Willie Mae Williams accompanies herself with adept and precise slide guitar on Don’t Want To Go There and Where The Sun Never Goes Down, in the meantime cleaving to older principles. As does Brother Willie Eason, his gruff voice lending emotion to There’ll Be No Grumblers There and I Want To Live (So God Can Use Me), his slide completing some of the vocal lines. Sister Elizabeth Phillips is impressively accompanied by Estis King‘s acoustic guitar, her music indeed ‘A Little Old-Fashioned’ but, a quarter century later, keeping faith with Benny Paris. Fascinating. Benny and Pauline Parrish were two blind religious singers originally from Woodcliff. It is likely that Blind Willie McTell was responsible for their session as he also recorded for Victor at that time and was somewhat of a pivotal figure in the area. Benny announces both songs before his wife begins singing, a practice more common on earlier recordings, but which may have had more to do with street-corner preaching. The duet harmony on their songs is reminiscent of the Nugrape Twins, who also recorded in Atlanta in late 1926 and early 1927. Benny and his wife’s I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me can be compared with a similarly titled track by Rev. D. C. Rice (see DOCD-5071) and has the same melody as “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! When I Lay My Burden Down”. There are other versions of this title by Mother McCollum (on this disc), Blind Roosevelt Graves (DOCD-5105), and Mclntorsh and Edwards (DOCD-5072). Virtually nothing is known about Rev. I. B. Ware, With Wife And Son, although we may infer from their deep southern style and their recording in Birmingham with other Alabama religious groups (Bessemer Sunset Four and Golden Leaf Quartet) that they are from that vicinity. The rudimentary bottleneck guitar style on both cuts can be contrasted with Blind Mamie Forehand‘s two takes of Wouldn’t Mind Dying If Dying Was All on Document Records DOCD-5054. Their rendition of You Better Quit Drinking Shine is one of numerous variants on a theme also known as “God Don’t Like It” (see Blind Willie McTell, DOCD-5677), or “Scandalous And A Shame”. Both the New Orleans location and the unmistakable voice lend support to the hypothesis that Blind Willie Harris is songster Richard “Rabbit” Brown. Both of the titles here have a sentimental quality not unlike the popular songs of white evangelist Homer Rodeheaver. Although Brown’s vocals are markedly more dramatic on his Victor sides it is safe to presume that a songster’s religious material would be more sedate than that of a Street evangelist. The scrap of “Nearer My God To Thee” that Brown builds to a histrionic climax in “Sinking Of The Titanic” (DOCD-5003) is an exception that can be explained by its context. Eddie Head And His Family have the relaxed flow of family groups like the contemporary Staple Singers. A vocal trio driven by tambourine and insistent east-coast guitar, they have an almost hillbilly flavour to their songs like numerous other south-eastern black groups. Lord I’m The True Vine is the same song as that recorded by Blind Gary Davis (DOCD-5060), while Tryin’ To Get Home is the same as Blind Willie McTell‘s from his 1940 Library Of Congress session (BDCD-6001). Mother McCollums Oh Lord I’m Your Child uses the same melody as “What Kind Of Man Jesus Is” (see Mclntorsh and Edwards, DOCD-5072), while When I Take My Vacation In Heaven is a waltz-time number also done by Rev. D. C. Rice (DOCD-5071). Crumpton and Summers‘ beautiful guitar / vocal duets were recorded in Augusta, Georgia, although they could be from anywhere in the South. Go I’ll Send Thee may have derived from “a nineteenth century religious teaching device: a canto of 12 verses setting forth essential Biblical facts which children were made to memorize” (Mack McCormick, explaining the origin of “The Dirty Dozens”). Nothing is known of the post-war artists here, but they do demonstrate the persistence of a style that had marginal commercial success. Sister Mathews has a shouting vocal delivery similar to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who was the most famous exponent of the post-war style. Tharpe also recorded Stand By Me for Decca in 1941. Sister Mathews is accompanied by guitarist James Butler, who then becomes Rev Charles White to sing How Long, also known as ‘Before This Time Another Year’.
The variety and durability of the music on this collection make it a most rewarding listening experience.Ken Romanowski Copyright 1992 & 2008 Document Records