Soul Gospel of the 1970s
February 14, 2020 10:16 PM   Subscribe

The Time For Peace Is Now: Soul Gospel of the 1970s
The Vinyl Factory and Luaka Bop present a new documentary revealing the untold stories of private press gospel groups in the USA.
posted by ob1quixote (5 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you SO. MUCH. For posting this link. That was excellent. Wondferful stuff.

The contemporary performance (probably titled "We Got a Race to Run"?) that starts at the 19:14 mark... wow. What a voice, what a solid groove. That pushes all the right buttons for me. Best damn music I've heard this year. All the people in this film, and all the things they say, just warm my heart.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:01 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]

Wow. This is a great short; there are soooo many stories woven together. I want to hear more; it leaves me wanting to know more.
posted by mightshould at 3:27 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]

I found out about this from the incomparable Peter Barakan on Facebook. Digging a little deeper just now led me to the liner notes on the Luaka Bop website.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:45 PM on February 15

It's a nice documentary, and the Luaka Bop comp it stems from is delightful, even if the conceit of "gospel music -- but not about Jesus!" is highly Stuff White People Like. Greg Belson's Youtube channel has a lot more similar material.

While I love seeing gospel get more mainstream recognition, Luaka Bop's puffery is obnoxious, if typical for the reissue industry and Luaka Bop in particular. The liner notes on this one contain a bunch of straight-up factual errors, but more insidiously they exaggerate the obscurity and uniqueness of the artists they feature. Almost none of the records featured were privately pressed. The Floyd Family was even on Savoy, a huge label with national distribution. Nor was soulful gospel an innovation of the 1970s. Many of the most popular acts of the 1960s had a soulful sound that drew on contemporary secular music. It's sad that reissue labels like Luaka Bop license all this great music and then surround it with misinformation.

It's especially sad since the true story of small-group gospel music is plenty interesting. It was an important part of the fabric of black middle-class life in the south, partially integrated and partially separate from secular music culture. It has long been closely integrated with the social life of the church and is often familial or otherwise multigenerational. There are thousands of groups like the Staples Jr. Singers who have been performing for decades. It's not a story of obscurity and innovation, but of community and tradition.
posted by vathek at 7:28 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]

When I was a girl, this record was the only one by a local church that we had. Every other one was by famous people like Aretha, the Staples Singers, the Rev. James Cleveland, etc. I heard this sung live at the church but didn’t attend the service when this was recorded. Our church was never able to get it together to have any recordings done with our choirs. That would have been fun.
posted by droplet at 8:07 AM on February 21

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