Sunday, September 01, 2019
Favorite gospel tracks, Part 3--Life's Railway to Heaven, Higher Ground
1890's Life's Railway to Heaven, by M.E. Abbey (words) and Charles D. Tillman (music) is possibly the longest sustained metaphor in gospel song history. The journey of life, and the spiritual journey, all told in terms of a train ride. Ingenious number, and worth hearing in multiple versions, I think--I've provided eight, starting with the 78 shown above--Smith's Sacred Singers, from 1927. It wasn't until I printed out the tracklist that I discovered I'd duplicated the Blue Ridge Quartet version. Not hard to do when you're working with this many tracks--I'm constantly checking to make sure I'm not repeating any numbers from my previous "favorite" posts, but this is my first time duplicating within a single post. An historic occasion. Sure to cause large ripples in the fabric of space, time, and Newsweek. I replaced the dupe with the Monroe Quartette's 1927 Whispering Hope--a very famous oldie penned in 1868 by Septimus Winner under the pseudonym Alice Hawthorne. Being more inspirational or sentimental than sacred, it tends not to show up in hymnals.
The Railway version titled"The Railroad Song" features, but for some reason doesn't credit, George Beverly Shea. Ripped from my 78 copy.
Railway is preceded by five helpings of Johnson Oatman, Jr. and Charles H. Gabriel's famous Higher Ground, and I guess I have to pick the superb Old Fashioned Revival Hour Quartet's straight-from-the-page rendition as my favorite. My favorite among my favorites, or whatever. My favoritest favorite of this favorite. (I think I'm losing it.) I ripped the King's Trio and Stepp Family versions from the CD-R on which I'd saved them, and I told you about the MAGIX problem in which only two information fields show up when I import tracks from a MAGIX-ripped CD. A major pain. At least I noted the group locations along with the titles on the first information line. That could date the rips back to my Musicmatch days.
The 1926 Peerless Quartet sides, ripped straight from the original Victor label 78s, sound fabulous, which I attribute to uncommonly good early-electric-era engineering. The Homer Rodeheaver-Henry Burr Where the Gates Swing Outward Never (a Charles Gabriel masterpiece that deserved to be a much bigger hit) is a 1927 Victor that sounds... interesting, with the singers placed a good distance from the microphone(s) in an obviously large setting. Kind of a neat effect, but the results can't compete with the Peerless Quartet audio.
Cleavant Derricks' When God Dips His Love in My Heart, sung here by the LeFevres, is also known as When God Dips His Pen of Love in My Heart. I don't know which is the official title.
Enjoy today's favorites. Many more to come!
All ripped and edited by me from vinyl and shellac in my collection.
DOWNLOAD: Favorite Gospel Tracks, Part 3
In the Sweet Bye-and-Bye (Bennett--Webster)--Peerless Quartet w. Orch., 1926
We Shall Rise (J.E. Thomas)--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1927
Higher Ground (Oatman, Jr.-Gabriel)--Old Fashioned Revival Hour Quartet, 1965
Same--The Blue Ridge Quartet, 1972
Same--The King's Trio (Akron, Ohio)
Same--The Stepp Family (Greenville SC)
Whispering Hope (S. Winner)--The Monroe Quartet, 1927
Where the Gates Swing Outward Never (Gabriel)--Homer Rodeheaver-Henry Burr, 1927
Same--Old Southern Sacred Singers, 1929
God Is Working His Purpose Out (Ainger-Kingham)--St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, c. Lance Hardy, 1961
Angel Band (Hascall-Bradbury)--Bill Williams
The Home Over There (Huntington-O'Kane)--Peerless Quartet w. Orch., 1926
Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan--Gid Tanner and His Skillet-Lickers w. Riley Puckett, 1926
Life's Railway to Heaven (Abbey-Tillman)--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1927
Same--The Goodman Family, 1963
"The Railroad Song" (Life's Railway to Heaven)--Billy Graham Crusade, Dir. Cliff Barrows
Same--The Blue Ridge Quartet
Same--Jimmy Dean, 1957
Same--Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters, 1974
Same--Charles Harrison-Clifford Cairns, 1922
When God Dips His Love in My Heart (Derricks)--The LeFevres, 1965
The Old Time Religion--Tuskegee Institute Singers, 1915
Old Time Religion (Tillman)--Criterion Quartet, 1910
You Go to Your Church (Phillips H. Lord)--Tommy Wilson