“Your Foot might slip and your soul get lost”: Hugh E. Porter & His Gospel Singers – Spirituals (1967)

When I’m out buying vinyl from one of my favourite secondhand haunts, my wife often looks at the stuff that no-one else looks at.

She often spots a cracker of a cover, some audacious title and she’ll say “I’m gonna get this”. Never more than £1.  This has been a project of hers for a while, though she hasn’t had much opportunity to have a dig around the record crates in a while (so does it count as an active project?).  Anyhoo, I guess it made record shopping with this guy a bit more bareable.

Kidding Around With Carol Channing and the Kids, Ray Bolger reading The Land of Oz, Bing Crosby’s Greatest Hits and David Kossoff’s Bible Stories being just a few of those titles in the collection that, admittedly, haven’t been listened to from start to finish.

One of the real gems, though, is Spirituals: The Heavenly Sound of Negro Spirituals by Hugh E. Porter and His Gospel Singers.  It’s the type of record that you just wouldn’t imagine being made now. Heck, its sub-title wouldn’t grace a record cover these days!I was incredibly intrigued when my wife picked it up and I’ve enjoyed it an awfy lot each time I’ve given it a spin.  That said, I’ve only pulled it from the shelf once a year over the 4 years or so.  So, 4 spins since it’s been in the collection, then!  However, each listen has been as intriguing as the last.

I’m actually fairly fond of spirituals and gospel music.  I guess cause I’m a fan of country and blues.  As a result, I’m fairly familiar with a whole bunch of the songs here, though I’ve never heard them as raw or vibrant as this.  No, sir.  It’s just Hugh, his organ, and his singers (who seem to have some tambourines and the likes. Obviously).It’s not my intention to convince anyone that this is a stellar set, but it is.  It’s full of passion and clearly not an exercise in nailing a best take.  There’s a lack of control and a rawness to it all.  Capturing the emotion and energy of a musical sermon, I guess. So there’s a wonderful ramshackle feel as a result.

Of the songs that I haven’t heard a million times, Ezekiel Saw the Wheel and The Lord Saved Me are incredible.

Hitting up Google I can’t find too much out there on Hugh E. Porter (if anything at all), but my impression is that he’s not a singer.  Certainly not a popular recording artist – even in 1967.  However, I may be wrong (if you know more about this guy, please feel free to let me know in the comments – I’m genuinely interested).

Regardless, this one really is a brilliant listen and an incredible find.  I’m glad I’ve discovered it… 

My wife deserves the credit, though.

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32 Comments

    1. It doesn’t happen very often, but I’m certainly glad I can dig through the crates for an hour of or so before the “are you done?” question comes up!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I figured it would rock both the 1967 and ‘curiosity corner’ fields, Bruce. I dare say there’s a soundtrack post on the way, too… only a year or so late.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s been a while since we had a proper dig (I don’t think many stores take kindly too a wee yin saying “see” while reaching for the record goods!

      Mixed Up is particularly great for the £1 crates. That’s where I picked up Breakfast in America, Ghost in the Machine, and Deja Vu for £1 just because of a few scuffs to the LPs and / or pretty worn sleeves.

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    1. Without hitting up Google to see who that dude is, I’ll say “it sure is!”

      I believe the Johnny Cash version of The Old Account Was Settled is on the expanded At San Quentin release.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love that you share the LP shopping experience! My lovely wife usually heads out for coffee after twenty minutes or so. Those are rookie numbers! Haha

    That’s quite the find – quite possibly one of a kind, never see that again! Good on ya for trying it, I’m glad it worked out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, Im lucky that I don’t have the tap on the shoulder too soon after entering the record shops. I think she also finds flicking through the racks quite relaxing… and interesting. Understandably, it’s been a while since we spent a fair amount of time browsing. Nowadays I do my crate digging at lunch breaks and we visit the record store for something specific.

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  2. So many things to like about this take. Just the process on how it was acquired. I’m in the same record buying mind set as your wife (Lets not over think this music thing). This would have been a no brainer for CB. I’m an organ guy and in this setting as the only instrument with tambourine and vocals is perfect. Plus a heathen like CB can use all the help he can get. A gem for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really should post about more of her picks… but need to spend a bit of time with them.

      This one just appealed to me straight away. If I remember correctly, I had this on before the LPs I bought that day.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Often agree with comments of yours at Vinyl Connection so thought I’d pop across to your blog for a browse.
    I’d listen to this one for sure.
    The closest I have to a Gospel album is Mavis Staples (but more in the protest song genre I suppose) which gets an occasional play.
    An album of mine that gets only a more or less annual outing is ‘Now I’m Easy’ which combines the sentimental with anti-war (played around Anzac Day).

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    1. Thanks for dropping by. I don’t have any Mavis Staples, but I’ve been on the look out for Only For The Lonely – there are a few tracks on there that are really pretty wonderful.

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