Sunday, March 22, 2009
Sunday morning gospel--Smith's Sacred Singers (1926-1928)
First, let me apologize to any Internet Explorer users encountering a long break between the image and the text. I find that, when I do a proper text/image line-up on Firefox, it doesn't work for I.E., and vice versa.
I don't suppose there's a way around this problem.
And... I have yet to hear back from our tech, Steve, whom I want to diagnose whatever's going on between my sound-editing software (MAGIX Cleaning Lab 14), my PC, and/or my CD-ROM. In the meantime, I ripped today's 78s on 14 and experienced two aborted CD burns. The third, oddly enough, worked without a hitch--no freeze-up, nothing. So now we know that, whatever the issue is, it's on and off.
I think these nine files of 1926-1928 78s came out pretty well--they took some work, for sure, since only one of these discs was in above-average condition. The rest were eh to ugh. ("So, how's it look, Lee?" "Eh....") But all are listenable, and some even sound good.
As we discussed last post, it seems that anything that isn't familiar in the mass-marketed-music sense ends up with one or more of the following labels: oddball, outsider, weird, eh, and so on. But the gloriously gruff and aggressive style of Smith's Sacred Singers is straight out of Sacred Harp (a.k.a. shape-note) singing, an area of music that is anything but poorly documented. The group's Columbia label recordings were extremely popular in their day, so, again... outsider they were and are not. Then again, they don't sound like Elvis, Frank, Bing, or Beck, so....
The music of SSS screams pop culture, but that term has almost lost its meaning anymore. The main problem is the first word, whose definition has changed considerably over the past few decades. Once, everyone knew that "popular" meant just that--everyone. Everyone, in the sense of the common man and common culture. But today, no one is common. No one! Just ask them. ("Excuse me, sir. Are you common?" "Heck, no!")
This all has something to do with why people become convinced that this or that record is outside of the pop category. That's my best guess.
Really, "pop culture" has to go as a term, since, on a popular level, people don't know what popular means. So we'll have to call it something else. Schmopular, maybe.
Meanwhile, I call the following nine tracks marvelous.
Click here to reach zip file: Smith's Sacred Singers, 1926-1928.
HE WILL SET YOUR FIELDS ON FIRE
I WILL SING OF MY REDEEMER
SHOUTING ON THE HILLS
PALMS OF VICTORY (Actually, DELIVERANCE WILL COME)
THE HOME OVER THERE
MY LATEST SUN IS SINKING FAST
PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD
HE BORE IT ALL
From Columbia label 78s.
I mislabeled Deliverance Will Come as Palms of Victory, which happens to be an alternate title. Oops. It's also been known by other names over the many decades since it was written. My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast is much better known as Angel Band. The words, by Rev. Jefferson Hascall, come from 1860, and were originally called The Land of Beulah. Music is by the great William B. Bradbury. In spite of it all, O Brother, Where Art Thou? credited the whole thing to "Traditional." The alternative would have involved research (an old-fashioned term for Googling).