Today's offerings are highly down home, so I thought I'd use the highly down home jacket photo (above) of the Taylor Mountain Boys to underscore the, um, down home-ness. I suppose that "down home" means back to what's true and pure--going back to things that are basic and simple--returning from those things and ways of life that distract us from what's real and good and holy. Back from the city, with its pollution and litter and artificial ways and red light cameras. Going home, which can mean going back to the old country church, or going home in the final-journey sense. Going to the mansion over the hill. Walking the streets of gold. Chatting with the saints on a first name basis. I don't know how I got caught in this cycle of gospel memes, but I need to free myself (so to speak) and start talking about the tracks....
There. I'm back. It's weird, getting stuck in the gospel meme zone--nice, though. A week's worth of ripping freshly-thifted and long-ago digitized gospel tracks, and... you just sort of end up in that zone. Looks like I have enough tracks left on my PC for two more installments after today, and maybe a new Higher Ground version will pop up in the meanwhile. Today, we start out with three HG's, the lively Coffey Family take, the down-home-as-it-gets Jordan Family version, Joe Emerson's big label (RCA) treatment, and arranger Frank Garlock's terrific choral arrangement for the Southside Baptist Church Choir. Such is my devotion to getting the details right (or, keeping the typos down), I re-uploaded this zip file after I noticed I'd misspelled Frank's last name on that track as "Garlop." However, I still forgot to take the Gospel-Lites' name out of the title field of their terrific Take Your Shoe Off Moses, proving that I'm perfect. I mean, that I'm not perfect. By the way, the lack of a comma in that title could have someone thinking it's about taking our shoes off of Moses, as opposed to an invitation to Moses to remove his. ("Sorry, Moses--I gave you the wrong shoes. Those are mine." Moses: "They did seem a little cramped....")
The tracks today are so bluegrassy and country-y (coutry-y??) that I removed some slower, more thoughtful tracks I'd wanted to include--they were like jamming on the brakes, tempo- and mood-wise. So I'll feature them next time. They're great tracks, but they're the stylistic antitheses of these, and I didn't want to break the nonstop rhythm established by these. The Rock Where Moses Stood, aka Crying Holy Unto the Lord, is credited everywhere to A.P. Carter, but he had an unfortunate habit (or someone did) of sticking his name on things he didn't write, including numbers that were still in copyright at the time (like Ada J. Blenkhorn and J. Howard Entwistle's Keep on the Sunny Side of Life). So I see "A.P. Carter," and I say, "Yeah, right." This could well have been an author-unknown African-American number--many of those are bluegrass gospel standards, like Hear Jerusalem Moan. Whoever gave it to us did us a major favor--it's magnificent. Come and Dine is another great one, with known authorship this time, and since I'm used to hearing the number in a Billy Graham Choir-sort of rendering, it's interesting to hear it done up country by the Happy Goodman Family and bluegrass by The Taylor Mountain Boys. I'm trying to come up with some at-the-table word play here, but I'm not succeeding. Ain't No Grave, which Wikipedia says is usually credited to Claude Ely, is of course a Rapture song, and with a spooky feel--those held, mournful notes might have something to do with it, and you'd almost not know the words are describing a happy event. I had a stray Jesus Is Coming Soon left over, as recorded by the Heavenbound Singers, so here it is, and it's a more than worthy take. I had a stray Echoes from the Burning Bush, too, and it's fine, as well. Shouting on the Hills, aka Shouting on the Hills of Glory is credited to Rowe-Vaughn by one cyber-source, and to Carter Stanley (of the Stanley Brotheres) by a number of others, but Hymnary,org tells us the author is E.M. Bartlett and that the proper title is What a Happy Time Is Coming. I trust them on this matter, so Bartlett it is. All three versions in our playlist are as down home as down home comes, and they're all excellent, but I go with the earliest--the superb 1926 Smith's Sacred Singer's recording, which I freshly ripped today from my not-mint Columbia 78.
The Traveler's Quartet--credited on its jacket as the Travler's Quartet--was going to get three spots today, but they got bumped down to one so I could make -athons out of He Bore It All and Hold to God's Unchanging Hand. Lots of behind-the-blog penciling in and penciling out happens here as I make these--the Media Room was busy this week. It took a little Googling to discover the person who wrote Keys to the Kingdom, but it was Jenny Lou Carson (I confirmed this by listening to her version on YouTube), and I wish people on line would stop being stupid and quit giving songwriting credit to whoever happens to have recorded the version they know. That way, I wouldn't have to wade through fifteen false credits each time I check on numbers I don't know. The fidelity on the Travler's/Traveler's LP is some of the most limited I've yet encountered on a privately-made gospel effort, so it took two levels of upper-freq manipulation to achieve good, solid mediocre sound quality. Worth it when the performers are this interesting. But I have to wonder if the engineer cut the treble or if it there simply wasn't any to begin with on the master tape.
All transfers are mine, except for the 1928 Stamps Quartet track (He Bore It All), which I rescued from RCA Camden fake stereo, and yes, that's "Andra Czarnikow" getting the composer credit for God Walks the Dark Hills (one of the all-time best gospel song titles), and it's the genuine credit, as far as I know. Anyone with any knowledge of Andra, please chime in.
Banjos, mandolins, fiddles, bluegrass end-of-lines fermatas, plus a few sides some distance from the mountains but which soar, nonetheless, or whatever I just typed. This is me, typing under the influence of high ragweed pollen. To the music!
UPDATE: I mistook Over in the Gloryland for Emmett S. Dean's Just Over in the Glory-Land, penned in 1906 and often credited to the co-publisher. This is a very similar, but different, number. And Shouting on the Hills is indeed by E.M. Bartlett, composed in 1925 under the title There'll Be Shouting. I just discovered it one of my songbooks.
DOWNLOAD: Favorite gospel tracks, part 6
Higher Ground (Oatman, Jr.-Gabriel)--Coffey Family
Same--The Jordan Family
Same--Joe Emerson, 1960
Same--The Southside Baptist Church Choir (Arr: Frank Garlock)
The Rock Where Moses Stood--The Earls and Whitehead Gospel Singers, 1967
Come and Dine (Widmeyer)--The Taylor Mountain Boys, 1968
Same--The Happy Goodman Family, 1969
Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down (Claude Ely)--G.M. Farley and the Foggy River Boy, 1963
Ain't No Grave (C. Ely)--The Cooke Duet, 1969
Jesus Is Coming Soon (R.E. Winsett)--The Heavenbound Singers
Echoes from the Burning Bush (Summar-Foust)--The Gloryland Quartet
Shouting on the Hills (E.M. Bartlett)--Jack Bishop
Shouting on the Hills of Glory (E.M. Bartlett)--The Earls and Whitehead Gospel Singers, 1967
Shouting on the Hills (E.M. Bartlett)--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1926
God Walks the Dark Hills (Andra Czarnikow)--The Leach Family
Hand Writing--Traveler's Quartet, 1967
Key's (sic) to the Kingdom (Jenny Lou Carson)--Traveler's Quartet, 1967
Take Your Shoes Off Moses (Jarris)--The Gospel-Lites
Meet Me Up in Heaven (Lee Roy Abernathy)--The Toney Brothers Quartet
Over in the Gloryland (
Hold to God's Unchanging Hand (Eiland-Wilson)--The LeFevres, 1963?
Same--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1928
He Bore It All (Baxter, Jr.-Stamps)--The Stamps Quartet, 1928
Same--The Southern-Aires Gospel Singers
Same--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1927