Saved! Vol. 2 – The Soul edition
The second SAVED! compilation gets righteous on your asses with a churchful of glorious ’70s soul – and it does so without going for the easy option of all those Stevie Wonder songs about God being a zillion lightyears away with whom you should have a talk (and did George Michael realise that he was singing a song of praise to God when he had a hit with Mary J Blige?).
While neither Stevie, Aretha nor Marvin feature here, Al Green does, though with a song that precedes his lesser Reverend Green phase. And, of course, Curtis Mayfield testifies, in his ways of social consciousness.
Most acts here did the Christian thing on the side; some of them may even be unexpected inclusions, such as soul songbirds Honey Cone, the legendary O’Jays, future disco diva Loleatta Holloway, Disco Inferno’s The Trammps, funksters The Bar Keys or William DeVaughn, whose Be Thankful For What You Got (featured in Any Major Soul 1974-75) is one of the widely forgotten giants of ’70s soul.
However, a couple of acts here did specialise in gospel music (remember, the genre is much broader than flamboyantly robed brethren clapping their hands or Winans knock-offs testifying in the glib ways of contemporary Christian music). The coolest of those was The Relatives. The gospel-funk-soul group recorded in the first half of the 1970s in Texas. Led by the Reverend Gean West, they released just three singles, and didn’t appear on CD until the small Hum Records label put out a collection of their released and unreleased material in 2009. The Relatives never broke through because the music was too funky for gospel, and too sanctified for the secular market. Reverend West is now in his mid-70s, and he’s still singing and preaching.
Another gospel-soul act is Detroit’s excellent The Rance Allen Group, whom we met before on Covered With Soul Vol. 5, with their reworked version of The Temptations’ Just My Imagination (which became Just My Salvation), and in the Rapture Day special, with the astonishing There’s Gonna Be A Showdown.
The third act here specialising in Christian messages is The Sons of Truth, whose testimony was rooted in ghetto life. They recorded on Stax’s Gospel Truth subsidiary. They are not to be confused with The Soul Children, who were an act put together by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. Their lead singer John Colbert later had a solo career as J Blackfoot.
Only one track on this mix was a proper hit (though God Bless This Child, performed here beautifully by Vivian Reed, is a classic). Stoned Love was The Supremes‘ first post-Diana Ross hit. Written in 1970, the song’s writer, Kenny Thomas, said the word “stone” refers to the strength of the bond of brotherhood the lyrics are calling for. It was supposed to be “Stone Love”, which is what The Supremes are singing, but a misprint on the label turned it into “Stoned Love”, and it was left at that.
Check out the drum break in the track by Carolyn Franklin (sister of Aretha and Erma) – has it been sampled to good effect yet? I also love the drumming on Sounds of the City Experience’s Babylon. And talking of family connections, Milton Wright is the brother of Betty Wright (and obviously not the father of flight pioneers Orville and Wilbur).
Incidentally, the brilliant Touch Me Jesus might be credited to the excellent Glass House, but it was actually recorded by The Blossoms, with Darlene Love on lead vocals (there was a legal case about it).
As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R (without the bonus track, obviously). Home-made covers are included.
1. Honey Cone – Sunday Morning People (1971)
2. The Soul Children – All Day Preachin’ (1972)
3. Carolyn Franklin – Soul Man (1976)
4. Al Green – Jesus Is Waiting (1973)
5. Curtis Mayfield – I Plan To Stay Believer (1971)
6. Ernie Hines – A Better World (For Everyone) (1972)
7. Milton Wright – Job (1977)
8. The O’Jays – Make A Joyful Noise (1976)
9. The Relatives – Rap On (1974)
10. Sounds of the City Experience – Babylon (1976)
11. The Glass House – Touch Me Jesus (1971)
12. The Supremes – Stoned Love (1970)
13. The Rance Allen Group – God Is Where It’s At (1972)
14. The Sons Of Truth – God Help Us All (1972)
15. Loleatta Holloway – H.E.L.P. M.E. M.Y. L.O.R.D. (1975)
16. The Trammps – Pray All You Sinners (1972)
17. Jerry Butler – A Prayer (1972)
18. The Bar Kays – God Is Watching (1972)
19. The Impressions – Preacher Man (1973)
20. The Four Tops – The Good Lord Knows (1972)
21. Vivian Reed – God Bless The Child (1976)
22. William DeVaughn – We Are His Children (1974)
BONUS TRACK: Donny Hathaway – Thank You Master (For My Soul) (1970)
GET IT (PW in comments)
* * *