Sunday, January 12, 2020
The Earls and Whitehead Gospel Singers--The Master Shepherd (Jalyn 105; 1966)
I don't know if Jalyn Records of Dayton, Ohio gave groups a choice when it came to the stock-art covers--maybe the groups just had to wait for the LP to come out. Anyway, Edward and Millie Grills Earls (say that 30 times) and the Whiteheads are back at the blog this morning (or whenever you happen to be reading this). I previously featured their 1967 LP on this label, They'll Never Change the Way, and this preceded it by a year, and with a different group photo on the back. Though I was only familiar with two of the songs--They've Torn the Old Country Church Down and I Can Almost See the Lights of Home--I enjoyed every note of this. A total pleasure, and some of the smoothest bluegrass gospel you're going to hear anywhere. You can catch the personnel info from the slightly confusing liner notes, in which the writer doesn't always inform us as to the role of a given performer. For example, we learn that Millie Grills Earls "was born in Izard County, Arkansas. She has been married to Edward Earls since 1952, one year after Edward received his call to the ministry." That's fine, but what does she do on the LP? I assume she sings, but all I can do is assume. Patty Mayo Whitehead's function also goes unmentioned. She was born in Selma, Indiana and is married to Leamon Whitehead. Ohhh-kay. But I assume she adds to the music in some way. Not the best notes ever....
The group was based in Muncie, Indiana at the time, and besides Arkansas and Indiana, members also hailed from Kentucky. Kentucky--3, Indiana-2, and Arkansas--1. Three other folks are mentioned, but not their birthplaces. Being in a hurry to get these notes written and the post scheduled, I could have used some more complete and straightforward information, but then the casual nature of the liner notes actually goes kind of well with the friendly, honest, down-home performances, so why should I complain. This is take-off-your-shoes-and-relax-a-spell music, and I'm getting all uptight. I'm missing the point. I need to just flow with the go. I mean.... Whatever.
I didn't have time to do my usual obsessive verifying of composer credits, except for discovering that Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow--aka, The Pilgrim's Song--is the work of the great African-American hymnist, Charles Albert Tindley. I've always felt that Tindley arrived too early in the game to get the credit he's due, with black gospel somehow popularly assume to have started around the 1920s. You'd think, in a day when fact-checking was never so easy, that popular misconceptions would die quick deaths. If anything, received falsehoods are more likely to be maintained rather than corrected. What would Marshall McLuhan conclude?
A great copy of this LP--perhaps previously unplayed, even. A couple surface imperfections, but they were easily spliced out with MAGIX. Luckily, Rite Records pressed this, so I was able to find the year--1966. That would explain the mono.
The site for Rite Records had me convinced it was spelled RITE, since it insists on doing so, so if I typed "RITE" on the mp3 tags, now you know why. RITE? RITE.
To the great bluegrass gospel sounds. And don't miss the bonus Stuart Hamblen single after the LP. It has a separate download link.
DOWNLOAD: The Master Shepherd--The Earls and Whitehead Gospel Singers (1966)
The Master Shepherd (E, Earls)
Wash Your Brothers (sic) Feet (E. Wheeler)
Old Time Religion No. 2 (P.D.)
The Only Way Home (E. Chastin-G. Brooks)
Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow (Charles A. Tindley)
I Can Almost See the Lights of Home (P.D.)
That's Him (L. Presley)
There's Bound to Come a Change (P.D.)
It'll Matter but Little At Last (P.D.)
Father Hold My Hand (A. Gearhart)
They've Torn the Old Country Church Down (Fralix-Benson)
When He Blessed My Soul (C. Derricks)
The Master Shepherd--The Earls and Whitehead Gospel Singers (Jalyn Records 105; 1966)
And, as promised, a Stuart Hamblen single on the Columbia label--year: 1953. For some reason, I never associated Hamblen with Columbia, but he did a lot on that label. Earlier, he recorded for Victor. I love Hamblen's stuff. It's often corny and folksy, but it's so beautifully written and arranged, I can very easily forgive that fact. Hamblen was a songwriting genius, and I love the talking portions of his tunes--a device I usually dislike in gospel music. He just had a masterful touch. This was a lucky thrift find.
DOWNLOAD: Stuart Hamblen (Columbia Sacred Series 4-21158; 1953)
Partners with the Lord (Hamblen)
You Must Be Born Again (Hamblen)
Stuart Hamblen and the Cowboy Church Prairie Choir, 1953