Note: Zip file modified at 2.07 PM 11/20/2022
Near the beginning of the classic 1944 movie musical Meet Me in St. Louis, "Tootie" (Margaret O'Brien) is sitting in the back of an ice delivery cart. The scene takes place in 1903, and the six-year-old O'Brien is singing Brighten the Corner Where You Are--ten years before that hugely popular gospel song was written. Oops. Anyway, we'll be hearing the (surprisingly tinny-sounding) 1920 Brunswick recording of Corner, sung by the Criterion Quartet. This ingenious tune makes a perfect close-harmony number.
But we begin with four classic sides by Smith's Sacred Singers (the only kind they ever made)--1928's Lord I'm Coming Home, 1927's I Want to Go to Heaven, 1928's When Jesus Comes, and 1929's Meet Me There, all recorded for Columbia in Atlanta, Geogia. The Singers are followed by a remarkably modern-sounding family group called the Wright Brothers Quartet. I mean, it's either a mixed quartet, or one of the "men" is a boy. At any rate, I've featured locally recorded 1970s gospel efforts that sound little different in style--a fact which pleases me a great deal. These 1929 numbers are What a Glad Day and God's Message to Man. These, too, were recorded in Atlanta.
Then, Frank and James McCravy provide more urban-sounding gospel with Jacob's Ladder and I Want to Be There. Usually, I take the time to track down all the authors and composers the labels didn't bother to list, but not this time. Except for I Want to Be There, which is actually 1899's I Want to Go There by David Sullins. Did Okeh commit a typo or was it trying to avoid royalty payments? Who knows? It's as if labels of the 1920s assumed that anything "down home" was necessarily of unknown origin. It all seems like simple carelessness, but it could have been the canny type.
Then, we switch to the acoustical era with the aforementioned Brighten the Corner, which no one was singing in 1903, either on or off of ice delivery carts, along with a great Conway's Band rendition of Onward Christian Soldiers, properly credited to Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, of course). Our other pre-microphone side is a typically overwrought but wonderful William Mcewan rendition of Charles (Brighten the Corner) Gabriel's All Hail, Emmanuel, a marvelous 1910 anthem actually published as All Hail to Thee, Immanuel! With an exclamation mark.
All restored by me from my 78 copies, and all reasonably quiet, save for a noisy start to the McEwan side. I've yet to find an acoustical McEwan 78 with a quiet surface. There may not have been any pressed...
To the sacred shellac!
DOWNLOAD: Sacred Shellac--Smith's Sacred Singers, William McEwan, more!
Lord I'm Coming Home--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1928
I Want to Go to Heaven--Same, 1927
When Jesus Comes--Same, 1928
Meet Me There--Same, 1929
What a Glad Day--Wright Brothers Quartet, 1929
God's Message to Man--Same, 1929
Jacob's Ladder--Frank and James McCravy, 1927
I Want to Be There (aka I Want to Go There, by David Sullins)--Same, 1927
Onward Christian Soldiers--Conway's Band, 1915
All Hail, Emmanuel--William McEwan, approx. 1912
Brighten the Corner Where You Are--Criterion Quartet, 1920