April 2, 2002
6:48 PM   Subscribe

The best CD I've purchased so far this year is the latest from the Blind Boys of Alabama. this record features superb vocalizing, great bluesy guitar, and a Sones(!) and Tom Waits(!!) cover. In an age where "gospel music" has sunk into the quagmire of "Contemporary Christian", its easy to forget that old-school gospel both black and white were huge influences on rock and roll. Little Richard, for one, took his trademark "Whoo!" from Marion Williams and countless rockers from Aretha to Elvis learned to sing in church. Now, can I get an Amen?!
posted by jonmc (25 comments total)
D'oh! That "Sones" should be "Stones" in case you were confused. Must use spellcheck...
posted by jonmc at 7:01 PM on April 2, 2002

The Blind Boys of Alabama rule. I was lucky enough to do lights for one of their concerts, and it ... ruled. Yes. Amen!
posted by j.edwards at 7:05 PM on April 2, 2002

I'm not much on gospel-type stuff, but the best thing I've gotten my hands on this year so far is Brushfire Fairytales by Jack Johnson. The man's amazing.

Predictably, I'm still waiting patiently for the new DMB album on July 2nd. I have a feeling it's going to rock.
posted by tomorama at 7:19 PM on April 2, 2002

A successful Tom Waits cover would be something to hear. I can't think of any I've heard that sound more than ordinary without Waits singing them. Which one is it?

BTW, the interface for the realworld.co.uk site sucks. An interface that needs labels to tell people how to use it, fer cryin' out loud.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:22 PM on April 2, 2002

Which one is it?

"Jesus Gonna Be Here" and "Way Down in the Hole."

Tomorama, it's closer to soul or blues than what a lot of people these days would think of as gospel. Check out a few samples.BTW, I saw a pint of One Sweet Whirled in a convienience store the other day. I woulda sampled it(it looked delicious) but I was 30 miles from home and didn't wanna cart around a pint of melted goo.:)
posted by jonmc at 7:26 PM on April 2, 2002

The Danielson Family makes my favorite religious music.
posted by corpse at 7:45 PM on April 2, 2002

I can't conceive of any voice other than Waits' singing Jesus Gonna Be Here. How is that cover? In any event, thanks for the recommendation, Jon. I need to be "saved" right now, and this just might help :-)
posted by xena at 7:54 PM on April 2, 2002

I caught these guys a few years ago at the philadelphia folk festival, and I agree, these guys put on an AMAZING show. I hope to catch them again at a future folkfest, or shoot, any outdoor venue with room to dance will do...
posted by RubiX^3 at 8:12 PM on April 2, 2002

Sacred Steel Live!
posted by y2karl at 8:15 PM on April 2, 2002

The Word
John Medeski, North Mississippi Allstars, Robert Randolph
posted by johnjreeve at 8:19 PM on April 2, 2002


I'm an atheist and skeptic, but gospel music does something mighty funny to me. A workmate who's heavily into Christian R&B (and, alas, hip-hop) tells me it's the Holy Spirit knockin', and that I should just open up and let Him in. This just makes me picture a 'Mr Death or something, come about the reaping', so the moment soon passes :)

MetaFilter: You talk and you talk and say 'let me tell you something' and 'I just wanna say this'. Well, you're dead now, so shut up!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:23 PM on April 2, 2002

Also Recommended

The Hunters Chapel Singers of Como, Mississippi and Fred McDowell's version of You Got To Move is a mere two or three clicks away...
posted by y2karl at 8:56 PM on April 2, 2002

I'm finally in total agreement with you johnmc! I first heard them on NPR (*cough*) last year being interviewed by Chris Lydon. They are the real thing... they remind me of late Modern Jazz Quartet in the way that they are putting on the best shows of their lives in their 60s and 70s. Good good stuff. Their cover of The House of the Rising Son is also quite goosebumpy.
posted by n9 at 9:12 PM on April 2, 2002

Say Amen, Somebody , pardon the Amazon link, is probably sitting on the shelf of your local library right now. Check it out--there's this scene of Thomas Dorsey, the father of Gospel Music, then 84 years old, standing on his porch, conducting the birds singing in the trees, that's worth it alone...
posted by y2karl at 9:12 PM on April 2, 2002

John Hammond's Waits covers are not bad, I would say. But I always prefer the real thing.

Oh and Johnny Cash's cover of Down There By The Train, though I think Tom just wrote that one.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:44 PM on April 2, 2002

the most famous waits cover, rod stewart doing "downtown train," is pretty decent and springsteen's "jersey girl" was okay, but i really loved the ramone's version of "i dont wanna grow up."
posted by tsarfan at 11:31 PM on April 2, 2002

Shit, jonmc, I was looking for a link for Agnes Bernelle, whose cover of "Broken Bicycles" on Mother, The Wardrobe Is Full of Infantrymen out-Waits Tom Waits and just found out she died in 1999. It's a great, great album. I also have a weakness for Mathilde Santing's version of the same song.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:45 AM on April 3, 2002

Gotta chime in that "Amazing Grace" sung to the tune of "House of the Rising Sun" has been stuck in my head for months. I sing it in the car. Great album.
posted by pekar wood at 4:47 AM on April 3, 2002

Kafka: Waits wrote Down There By The Train for JC, but he did perform it live once himself in 1996. I'm sure you could find it if you look around... the Blind Boys' covers of Waits (and, uh, all the rest of their songs, too) are indeed awesome.
posted by transient at 4:51 AM on April 3, 2002

P.O.D. :) jah jah warriors!
posted by kliuless at 5:39 AM on April 3, 2002

I listened to the first sample on the Blind Boys website, and it was just a lame cover of that Moby song, "Run On."
posted by straight at 6:03 AM on April 3, 2002

I'm not much of a fan of Hammond's album of Waits covers -- his voice is too smooth to get at the soul of the songs.
I'm looking forward to picking up the Blind Boys album, Waits or no Waits.
posted by me3dia at 8:53 AM on April 3, 2002

straight: It was not a cover of Moby's "Run On". Moby sampled a traditional gospel song, the Blind Boys sung their version of the song. Most gospel songs you'll find out there are traditional. The same is true of much of the bluegrass that seems to be catching on.
posted by johnjreeve at 10:43 AM on April 3, 2002

Thanks, everyone, for the great links.

Another successful Waits cover, and the earliest one I'm aware of: Ol' 55 by the Eagles. Go ahead and laugh, all you alt-rock hipsters, but the close harmonies and Don Felder's guitar work make that song.
posted by groundhog at 12:22 PM on April 3, 2002

groudhog- I lovethe Eagles version of "Ol' 55." Dave Alvin's ain't bad either.

but i really loved the ramone's version of "i dont wanna grow up."

Tsarfan, the video for that song features animation from Dan Clowes of Eightball fame. Talk about an exponential cool factor.

I'm finally in total agreement with you johnmc!

**space-time-vortex collapses...door to new dimension opens up** :)

posted by jonmc at 12:37 PM on April 3, 2002

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