Can I Get An Amen?!!
January 18, 2004 9:24 AM   Subscribe

In the spirit of Sunday morning (and the Martin Luther King holiday weekend), I bring to you the news of a musical release of historical proportions. Dust to Digital has compiled Goodbye, Babylon an exhaustively annotated, beautifully packaged collection of American gospel music from the turn of the century up until 1960. Some performers are recognizable names in sacred and secular music. Others practice lesser known styles like Sacred Harp singing. Non-religionists, don't feel left out, this music is enjoyable strictly on it's musical and historical import, since along with blues, traditional country and Tin Pan Alley, gospel music both white and black is one of the main foundations of modern American music. Judging by the raves it's been recieving, this (admittedly expensive, but worth every penny) box set is destined for a place next to the Anthology Of American Folk Music in the collection of any serious student of American music.
posted by jonmc (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wow, this looks amazing. Thanks for the tip; I'll have to start my Xmas hinting early this year...
posted by languagehat at 12:05 PM on January 18, 2004

Proper's Good News: 100 Gospel Greats Box Set--4 CDs/$20--is a categorical delight, too.
posted by y2karl at 12:59 PM on January 18, 2004

Thanks jonmc (and karl) for the links and suggestions. I'd never checked out Dust to Digital before.

Whenever I listen to gospel I'm reminded of this: Black Gospel Choir Makes Man Wish He Believed In All That God Bullshit
posted by dhoyt at 1:36 PM on January 18, 2004

Yep, you certainly can get an 'Amen!,' brother johnmc.

I still haven't worked my way through all the discs but, thus far, it's sounding like the best seventy quid I ever spent. And dhoyt - there's more than one song here liable to make one question one's atheism!

I hate folk who pronounce any record 'essential' as much as the next man, but if you have more than a passing interest in music, of whatever stripe, you really do need this set.
posted by jack_mo at 1:48 PM on January 18, 2004

Man, that's kick ass.
posted by tr33hggr at 6:52 PM on January 18, 2004

Great post, jonmc. Looks like a great comp.
posted by anathema at 7:01 PM on January 18, 2004

Let me give a shout-out for Sacred Harp - sung by completely "untrained" musicians, this stuff put a feverish jolt through me when I first heard it back in college, and I always enjoy re-encountering it - and yeah, it does kind of make you wonder... how can they do this stuff.. unless...?
posted by soyjoy at 8:52 PM on January 18, 2004

Great post, jonmc. Looks like a great comp.

It is, anathema. The enclosed booklet is amazingly well-researched and informative. The Arizona Dranes and Washington Phillips (master of the gospel dolceola) tracks are especially revelatory.

For the past 2 weeks this has been my Sunday morning listening, one CD at a time. Puts me in just the right frame of mind.
posted by jonmc at 9:09 PM on January 18, 2004

It is indeed an amazing project. Psst--if you'd like to hear what some of the songs sound like, try appending "/mp3s/" to the end of the label's URL. (If you want somewhere to start, try 2-21, "Lover of the Lord," or 1-20, "I'll Be Satisfied.") (But I hasten to add that the packaging, and the fascinating book included with the package, add a LOT to the experience.)
posted by 88robots at 9:23 PM on January 18, 2004

jonmc - thanks, I've been needing an inspiration to exercise my pipes. I love Gospel....rapture.

But I'm "special". I've been experimenting with Tuvan throat singing while driving in my car. I'm getting that weird whistle. Another 10 years.....
posted by troutfishing at 9:34 PM on January 18, 2004

Rev. Washington Phillips is one of the greats. His Denomination Blues was covered by Sister Rosetta Tharpe as That's All when she played with Lucky Millinder's Orchestra and, of course, everyone is familiar with the Ry Cooder covers of Denomination Blues and The Tattler. What Are They Doing In Heaven Today was covered many times, notably by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys. For a guy that didn't sell that many 78s, he was influential.

Your link asserts that he did not play the dulceola but a zither, jon. I've the arguments from both sides for years and don't know have an opinion either but those are zithers he's holding in the photo. Of course, it's spelled two different ways, too.

Here are some clips from Yazoo's I Am Born To Teach The Gospel, which is a wonderful CD.

I heard Andy Cohen play his dulceola at the Alki Tavern this summer, where he played between David "Honeyboy" Edwards and The Phantoms Of Soul.

My other dulceola story is how my friend Bob West bought one at a rummage sale in his neighborhood, Eastlake, for $65 this same past summer. There were 17 known dulceolas in existence previous to his find. Jorma Kaukonen has one.

That is the second best Seattle rummage story in my experience: my friends Neal and Cynthia made a house down payment on the proceeds of a Sotheby auction of a bowl they bought for about $3. They live up on the hill now in Magnolia.
posted by y2karl at 10:10 PM on January 18, 2004

theres nothing more spiritual than a manowar record.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:56 AM on January 19, 2004

Not even Scottish Karaoke ?

Sgt. where's yer troosers!?
posted by y2karl at 8:41 AM on January 19, 2004

sorry , i meant there is nothing more spiritual than the bay city rollers - aka the four hideous horsemen.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:11 PM on January 19, 2004

wow, thanks for the tip and all the great links, jonmc! I have a few Christmas bucks I was going to spend on books, but this looks pretty compelling.

And y2karl, I always I appreciate your great musical lore & links.

Great thread. Just goes to show that it's always worth scanning through the posts of the days you miss at MeFi.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:18 AM on January 20, 2004

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