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.