Another Easter, another mix of Christian music. This fourth volume of the Saved! series covers gospel, R&B, country and a hint of jazz in the 1950s and early ’60s. Some of the artists are well-known gospel outfits (such as Claude Jeter’s Swan Silvertones, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Brother Joe May, Clara Ward), others are quite obscure (such as the Friendly Brothers). Gospel groups used to be a breeding ground for later soul stars: Sam Cooke was a gospel singer, of course. On this mix we meet Johnny Taylor — who two decades later would sing about the Disco Lady — as a member of the Highway QC’s. And in The Gospel Stars we have not only Motown’s first gospel outfit, but also the stars of the young label’s very first LP.
Other artists are very well known, though they are not usually thought of as purveyors of Christian music. It is no revelation, of course, that rock & roll pioneers Elvis, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis were men of deep faith, but also featured here are Charlie Rich, Patsy Cline and Dinah Washington, whose religious faith did not feature prominently in the public image.
Lula Reed has been largely forgotten, which is a shame. She was the first performer of the soul classic Drown In My Own Tears, and recorded both secular and sacred music. She could be described as a soul pioneer who retired from secular music before the genre really took off. She refused all offers to record a soul album. Lula Reed died in 2008 at the age of 82.
Of all acts featured here, The Prisonaires have the best story. As their name suggests, they were inmates at a Tennessee jail. Sun Records’ Sam Philips heard of their jailhouse music and recorded them, including their song Crying In The Rain, which later became a huge hit for Johnny Ray. The Prisonaires even performed, under guard, at the mansion of Tennessee’s governor.
And then there is the catchy Do Lord by the unwieldily named quartet of Jane Russell, Connie Haines, Beryl Davis, Della Russell (their alternative name, The Four Girls, never really caught on). Yes, it is that Jane Russell, actress and friend of Marilyn Monroe, who was a devout Catholic, and roped in fellow stars into a Christian Hollywood society, whence her singing group appeared. Davis and Haines were big band singers, though Haines appeared in a few films. Della Russell was the singer wife of crooner Andy Russell, with whom she regularly appeared in TV in the 1950s.Actress Rhonda Fleming was also a member of that group, though not on Do Lord.
As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-baptised covers. If you believe, have a happy Easter inspired by this mix; if you don’t, enjoy the chocolates and the music on this collection of fine music.
1. Zeb Turner – Why Don’t You Haul Off And Get Religion (1950)
2. The Spirit Of Memphis – Atomic Telephone (1952)
3. Brother Joe May – When The Lord Gets Ready (1959)
4. The Staple Singers – I Know I Got Religion (1959)
5. Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers – Jesus, Wash Away My Troubles (1955)
6. Clara Ward & The Ward Singers – Faith That Moves Mountains (1953)
7. The Chosen Gospel Singers – Watch Ye Therefore (1954)
8. The Friendly Brothers – You Can’t Even Thumb A Ride (1959)
9. The Dixie Hummingbirds – Devil Can Harm A Praying Man (1959)
10. Lula Reed – Just Whisper (1954)
11. Sister Wynona Carr – The Ball Game (3:04)
12. Little Richard – Every Time I Feel The Spirit (1959)
13. The Pilgrim Travelers – I’ve Got A New Home (1953)
14. The Zion Travelers – A Soldier Of The Cross (1957)
15. The Orioles – Deacon Jones (1950)
16. The Prisonaires – My God Is Real (1953)
17. Elvis Presley – It Is No Secret (What God Can Do) (1959)
18. The Louvin Brothers – The Great Atomic Power (1952)
19. Patsy Cline – Life’s Railway To Heaven (1959)
20. Dinah Washington – Lord, You Made Us Human (1960)
21. Louis Armstrong – Ezekiel Saw Da Wheel (1958)
22. Jane Russell, Connie Haines, Beryl Davis, Della Russell – Do Lord (1954)
23. Ken Carson feat. Hal Kanner – Wond’rous Word (Of The Lord) (1951)
24. Jess Willard – Boogie Woogie Preaching Man (1951)
25. Hank Williams – Thank God (released 1956)
26. Charlie Rich – Big Man (1959)
27. Jerry Lee Lewis – When The Saints Go Marching In (1959)
28. The Swan Silverstones – Jesus Remembers (1956)
29. The Highway QC’s – Somewhere To Lay My Head (1955)
30. The Gospel Stars – Make Everything Alright (1961)
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