Have I mentioned that I consider the new (i.e., refurbished) Blogger to be awesome? I joked about it initially, since I'm wary of "new" anything in cyberspace, but the changes are nearly all for the better. Awesome, even. Wait--I already said that.
Now, can you tell the above image has been altered? I took the title and label number from side A and stuck it on side B, and the result is pretty good, even if the difference in contrast gives away the deception. (Or, at least, now that I'm telling you about it.) The A label, whose title I wanted to show, is badly torn--hence, the switcheroo. I've always wanted to type "Hence, the switcheroo."
Really great country gospel here, all from 1926 and 1927, except for the Prairie Choir side, which is actually from a 45, and from 1955, and not country gospel. However, we can pretend I used my 78 copy instead of the 45, thus preserving the integrity of the "78s" theme, or whatever I just typed. (I'm recovering from an all-day migraine, so pardon me if I'm even vaguer than usual.)
The Cowboy Church Prairie Choir was, um... um.... Well, it was associated with Stuart Hamblen, who wrote both selections, both of which I love. Hamblen had great songwriting ability of the Charles H. Gabriel type. I envy his ability to write simple and memorable gospel tunes, the kind that sound easy to concoct and are anything but. His Tennessee Ernie Ford-style voice, however, I'm not so crazy about. No matter--he doesn't sing on these, though we do have the deep, crisp bass of Thurl Ravenscroft on Hamblen's terrific Shake Hands with a Stranger. Pictures from Life's Other Side is from my latest 78 copy of this classic 1926 hit by Smith's Sacred Singers (see image below), a copy in very, very good (VVG?) shape. Short of landing a mint edition, I doubt I'll do better. My previous two Pictures were, respectively, worn to heck and filled with needle-drop marks, the kind that gramophone sound boxes were so good at making when carelessly handled. Hearing a clean copy of this disc is kind of weird, but nice-weird.
The song itself is from the late 1800s, if not earlier, and has been recorded by a variety of artists (Bradley Kincaid, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Bill Anderson, et al.) under title variations like Pictures of..., A Picture of..., A Picture from..., and so on. I should do a Pictures-athon sometime. A very socially conscious song, typical of its 19th-century type. Keep in mind that the poor and down and out were once even less valued than they are today, if you can (no pun intended) picture that. So, Picture was quite progressive, even bleeding-heart, which is fine with me.
Whispering Hope, written in 1868 by Septimus (Listen to the Mocking Bird) Winner, is one of those tunes that, once you've heard it, seems like the 100th time. I don't mean that as an insult, even if it sounds it. Winner also wrote Ten Little Indians (Injuns), believe it or not. The "Hawthorne" credit on the record label is the Winner pseudonym Alice Hawthorne.
Just when you thought things were reasonably sane: S-A-V-E-D, rescued from a battered copy, seems to feature what would become the melody to Oscar Mayer's "My bologna has a first name...." I've deciphered (but haven't typed) most of the lyrics, including "paint," which must have been slang for alcohol. S-A-V-E-D is yet another minstrel-sounding number poking fun at religious hypocrites, in case we thought that theme was contemporary. Fun but, even to my ears, different. Put it on whenever you want to convince your guests that you've been skipping your meds.
To the (mostly) 78s: Sacred 78s
Home in the Rock--Marshall Smith (Columbia 15080-D; 1926)
Jonah and the Whale--Same.
S-A-V-E-D--Gid Tanner and Faith Norris (Columbia 15097-D; 1926)
Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb--Jackson Young (Challenge 340; 1927)
I Know My Name is Written There--Same.
Pictures from Life's Other Side--Smith's Sacred Singers (Columbia 15090; 1926)
Where We'll Never Grow Old--Same.
Whispering Hope--Monroe Quartet (Okeh 40794; 1927)
Army of the Lord (Hamblen)--The Prairie Choir (RCA Victor 47-6119; 1955)
Shake the Hand of a Stranger (Hamblen)--Same.