Sunday, February 24, 2019
Sunday morning gospel: The Plainsmen Quartet--Little Is Much (1965)
Two posts back, we heard another LP from Heart Warming Records, and I spelled it "Heart Warming," though "Heartwarming" is an alternate spelling, according to discogs. The label doesn't make it all that clear. Sure, it looks like two separate words, what with the two hearts between "Heart" and "Warming," but I think I've seen it printed without the space. Of course, as I search for an example, I can't find one, so maybe I'm having a memory fart. At any rate, discogs isn't certain on the right way to spell the label, so there must be room for confusion. And I can't believe I've wasted a decent-sized paragraph on this non-issue.
The main thing is, our last Heart Warming LP, which featured the Oak Ridge Boys, had a pretty awful cover photo. Today's cover photo is a monumental step up. So, clearly, bad jackets are not a given for this label. This was a recent Goodwill find, and anymore I base my gospel LP buys on how many songs (or songwriters) I recognize--and what I think of them. This has I Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey Now, They Tore the Old Country Church Down, Cryin' in the Chapel, and a song by Doris Akers (Sweet Jesus), and so it was a must-buy. Superb singing, and with a perfect balance between slow, heartfelt ballads and fast, rock-the-grooves numbers. Many years back, when I first heard of I Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey Now, I knew I was dealing with a country-idiomatic title. The ambiguity, at least to my NW Ohio brain, is fascinating. To wit, is the person saying he doesn't intend to take anything with him on his journey to Heaven--for instance, no suitcases, trunks, or rare baseball cards? Or is he saying that he wouldn't trade anything for his trip to Heaven? Well, it's the latter, of course, but I still find the title enigmatic in a fun way. It's a great song--one of the modern classics. Modern in terms of the whole of gospel song history, that is--to some, praise songs of the 1980s are oldies. Depends on whether you reference "modern" to your own listening and playing experience or to the long haul of history.
Cryin' in the Chapel is one of those pop numbers that's close enough to a sacred song to sort of/kind of jump from pop to gospel. It helps that Elvis recorded it in a gospel mode, of course. Little Richard did a gospel-style rendition, too. There are lots of almost-sacred numbers that exist on the edge of gospel, including Whispering Hope, You'll Never Walk Alone, Climb Every Mountain, He, and the like. I hate Climb Every Mountain, by the way, and it may be memories of singing it in eighth grade music class, in which our teacher had us go over the "Follow every rainBOW" phrase about a million times, just to get the accent right on "-bow," which was somehow important. None of us wanted to sing anything, including numbers from The Sound of Music, but she wasn't interested in what we wanted. Anyway, many inspirational, almost-sacred, or vaguely religious numbers--or simply movie airs that accompany a scene in the afterlife (like the lovely main theme from Somewhere in Time, which makes its last appearance in the Titanic-imitated scene where Richard Collier reunites after death with Elise McKenna)--end up shuffled into the "inspirational" category, which could be considered sacred easy-listening, maybe. Clearly, I have no idea what I'm typing, so time to move on to the excellent Plainsmen Quartet, not to be confused with the Plainclothes Quartet. Hardy, har, har.
CLICK HERE TO HEAR: Plainsmen Quartet--Little Is More (Heart Warming LPHF 1837; 1965)
Little Is Much
I Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey Now
I'm Poor as a Beggar (Brumley)
You Just Don't Know What Lonesome Is
I am the Man
I'd Rather Live in the Valley
They Tore the Old Country Church Down
So Many Reasons
He Holds My Hand
Sittin' Around the Table of the Lord
Sweet Jesus (Doris Akers)
Cryin' in the Chapel (Artie Glenn)
The Plainsmen Quartet--Little Is Much (Heart Warming LPFH-1837; 1965)