Sunday, April 07, 2019
Sunday morning gospel: The Earls and Whitehead Gospel Singers: They'll Never Change the Way (1967)
Old-Time Religion, which doesn't appear on this LP, dates back to the 19th century. I bring this up because nearly all of the numbers on today's LP talk about "old-fashioned" (or "old fashion") things, about days gone by. Now, if folks were singing about old-time ways as far back as the 1800s, just how "old-time" are we talking? How far back, exactly? Thanks to the blog Praguefrank's Country Music Discographies, I know that this came out in 1967. (I'd link to the page, but Avast keeps telling me a threat has been detected. Dunno what's up with that.)
So, 1967. Okay, in 1967 commercial vinyl LPs were less than 20 years old. This is a commercial vinyl LP. In short, it was not old-fashioned. And the group members, as you can see in the photo, were dressing in the style of the time for their field (bluegrass gospel), class, and areas of origin. Again, not old-fashioned. And most of the songs they sang were of recent origin, looks like. Again, not old-fashioned.
They were recording a record album, they had probably driven to the studio in a fairly recent vehicle, and they were using instruments of modern manufacture, I'm guessing. I reckon my point is that bluegrass, in its gospel and non-gospel varieties, makes a point of being current, not old-fashioned, just like every other musical genre you can name. Yet bluegrass gospel is all about the old days, the old ways, and the true religion (old). In popular culture, old is a symbol for true, for authentic, for eternal, and not just in songs of a sacred nature. Problem is, the definition of "old" changes over time, of course. We're to cling to the old-fashioned ways, but which old ways? There's a gospel hymn called The Good Old-Fashioned Way. It's from 1903. Like Old-Time Religion, it does not appear on this LP.
You might wonder if I threw this post together in a hurry and if I am, as I type this, half-asleep. Why, that's right! How did you guess? Anyway, very entertaining and typical bluegrass gospel, with the conservative tone we'd expect (those new-style believers are going to be sorry! and so on). Solid musicianship all the way, and I'm guessing the group sold these at their concerts. I just looked up the label, Jalyn, and quickly found this brief but terrific label history: Jalyn Records.
LINK: Earls and Whitehead Gospel Singers
They'll Never Change the Way (Garnett Ball)
The Old Fashion (sic) Church (Wade Mainer)
Then I Got Happy (Earl Wheeler)
Lord Give Me a Vision (P.D.)
One Day Nearer Home (Hatfield-Rambo)
He Brought Me In (P.D.)
Don't Talk Them Up from the Altar (Earl Wheeler)
Old Brush Arbors (Ardis-Edwards)
Wolves in Sheep's Clothing (P.D.)
The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn (R. Stanley)
I'd Rather Be on the Inside Looking Out (Wade Mainer)
Are You Afraid to Die (Earl Wheeler)
They'll Never Change the Way--The Earls and Whitehead Gospel Singers (Jayln JLP-110'; 1967)