Sunday, April 29, 2012
Sunday morning gospel--Southern Gospel, Twenties-style: The Stamps Quartet
While I'm thrilled to have this LP in any form, I can be forgiven for wishing I had the mono edition. (I've yet to come across same.) RCA's "electronically reprocessed" stereo, after all, is an affront to sound, and an especially tragic device to impose on 1) recordings of this caliber and 2) transfers of this quality. But it obviously worked beautifully as a sales gimmick, given the number of fake stereo LPs that remain in second-hand circulation, not only on RCA, but Columbia and MCA, as well. The appeal of false stereo escapes me, since, at best, rechanneled/reprocessed/enhanced/etc. "stereo" is simply two differently equalized channels of the same thing. And, at worst (as on this LP), two differently equalized channels with a ridiculous amount of reverb added. There's a certain illusion of depth, but at the expense of sound quality.
No, wait--come back! I promise that these tracks are worth the download, despite the phony stereo, in part because I've corrected the injustice to some extent, creating a decently balanced mono with some of the echo removed. And I suspect that, once your ears have gotten into these splendid performances, you'll forget all about the echo and exaggerated midrange that masquerades as treble. If I can do it, you can, too.
For this is nothing less than Southern Gospel, Twenties-style, and not at all unlike the Statesmen, Blackwoods, Speers, et al. We've got the big bass (Frank H. Stamps), high tenor (Palmer Wheeler), and the requisite virtuoso, ragtime-y piano passages (Dwight M. Brock). Brock was one of those musicians who stole the show the moment he started to play. Keyboard charisma of the extreme variety.
Rounding out this superb group: Second tenor Roy Wheeler and baritone Odis L. Echoles. Again, RCA's transfers are terrific, marred only by that danged "reprocessed" stereo. I managed to date all but three tracks; the rest are from 1927-1929. If He Bore It All sounds familiar, it's because we've previously heard Smith's Sacred Singers do it (and a year earlier than the Stampses). Zoom, don't walk, to Mediafire:
The Stamps Quartet--Give the World a Smile
Give the World a Smile (1927)
Singing in My Soul (1929)
We Shall Reach Home
Do Your Best, Then Wear a Smile
Walk and Talk with Jesus (1928)
Living for Jesus
Let Me Live Close to Thee (1928)
He Bore It All (1928)
Love Leads the Way (1927)
He's a Wonderful Savior to Me
(Hm. I tried to set this to publish at 12:01 Sunday morning, but it's 9:44 pm on Saturday, and here it is. Probably my bad. The new Blogger design is mostly very cool and convenient.)