Any Major Decade: Best of Saved!
Over the past years it has become a tradition to for me to post a mix of songs about the Christian faith in the week before Easter. Predictably, they tend to be the least popular of mixes, by number of downloads (those who DL them tend to give great feedback).
I don’t now know whether it is because the subject matter is of no interest to some people, or because readers think I’m going all-born Christian Rock on their sorry asses. If it’s a case of the former: it’s about the music, not about conversion! Some of the best music has been about religious faith, from Bach to Mary Lou Williams to the Carter Family. And if it’s a case of the latter, you might not have followed this blog carefully. The music on the SAVED! mixes is great.
Unlike a lot of Christian Rock, what we get when artists in popular music address religious themes is absolute authenticity. That is true for the gospel singers of the 1940s and 1950s, who were as sure influential on the rise of rock & roll, as a musical form, as was R&B and country. Take Sister Rosetta Tharpe or Brother Joe May out of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard, and you remove an essential ingredient in their music.
The same goes for soul. The soul singers who modelled themselves after Sam Cooke drew their inspiration not from the crossover crooning in the mould of Twisting The Night Away of You Send Me. They modelled themselves on Gospel Sam. And perhaps the terminology of gospel needs to be redefined, if by that term most people think of massed choirs in flowing robes.
We have no flowing robes here, though there is a place for that too. We have soul singers, though. There was a time when soul singers recorded songs about their faith as a matter of course. They did so, the sequencing of these songs on the LPs suggests, not as a calculated nod to the folks who like that kind of thing, but because it was naturally part of their lives.
Then you get the surprise performances. Nick Cave has sung a few songs of religious content; The Mercy Seat, so incredibly covered by Johnny Cash, is one such song. Here we have Cave singing almost hymn-like about Jesus Christ in a most unexpected way. Cave is not a religious man of the traditional sort, unlike Alison Krauss, who has the voice of an angel (in as far as I am competent to make such comparisons, given my absence of exposure to choirs of cloud-sitting, winged angels). Oh, but when she sings A Living Prayer, even the most hardened atheist must get an idea of what it must be like to be in the presence of God. The same goes for the wonderful Mindy Smith.
Talking of angels, in the 1942 Nazi propaganda film Die große Liebe (The Great Love), the big Swedish star Zarah Leander had a showstopper song called Ich weiß es wird einmal ein Wunder gescheh’n (I know one day there will be a miracle), the video of which is HERE. The big production required a choir of angels, stacked together like a big cake. Trouble was, the producers could not get together a plausible cast of angels that could match Leander’s extraordinary height. So they turned to casting agency Stormtroopers, dressed up a group of elite SS soldiers in ways that the producers of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert would reject as being too camp, and stacked them up like a singing cake before they were let loose again in their day job of killing for the hell of it, using guns and, unlike their colleagues in occupied Poland, not poison gas. Sean Spicer, the SS of the media room, would approve. Read more about it HERE.
This mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Alas, the folder that contained the home-made covers was on an external (as opposed to eternal) harddrive that has suddenly died; so the devil was in the works… PW in comments.
Happy Easter, and, if that is not your thing, Happy Chocolate Day.
1. Rance Allen Group – There’s Gonna Be A Showdown (1972)
2. The Relatives – Leave Something Worthwhile (1970s)
3. Honey Cone – Sunday Morning People (1971)
4. Soul Children – All Day Preachin’ (1972)
5. Elvis Presley – Run On (1967)
6. Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers – Wonderful (1959)
7. Brother Joe May – When The Lord Gets Ready (1959)
8. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – This Train (1943)
9. Marie Knight – What Could I Do (1947)
10. Spirit Of Memphis – Atomic Telephone (1952)
11. Lula Reed – Just Whisper (1954)
12. Deep River Boys – I’m Tramping (1946)
13. Carter Family – Can The Circle Be Unbroken (Bye And Bye) (1935)
14. Natalie Merchant with Karen Paris – When They Ring The Golden Bells (1998)
15. Wilco – Airline To Heaven (2005)
16. Tom Waits – Come Up To The House (1999)
17. Pops Staples – Hope In A Hopeless World (1994)
18. Steve Earle – God Is God (2011)
19. Mindy Smith – Come To Jesus (2004)
20. Alison Krauss – A Living Prayer (2004)
21. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Bless His Ever Loving Heart (2005)
22. The Chambers Brothers – Travel On My Way (1970)
23. The Glass House – Touch Me Jesus (1971)
24. Loleatta Holloway – H.E.L.P. M.E. M.Y. L.O.R.D. (1975)
Previous SAVED! mixes
Saved! Vol. 1 (Elvis Presley, Carter Family, LaVern Baker, Marvin Gaye…)
Saved! Vol. 2: Soul edition (Curtis Mayfield, The Supremes, The Trammps, Jerry Butler…)
Saved! Vol. 3 (Prefab Sprout, Wilco, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Lyle Lovett…)
Saved! Vol. 4 (Sam Cooke, Dixie Hummingbirds, Dinah Washington, Jerry Lee Lewis…)
Saved! Vol. 5 (Donny Hathaway, Holmes Brothers, Steve Earle, The Bar-Kays…)
Saved! Vol. 6: Angels edition (Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Rilo Kiley, Kris Kristofferson…)
Saved! Vol. 7: Soul edition (Earth, Wind & Fire, Billy Preston, Al Jarreau, Marlena Shaw, Al Green….)