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    Various Artists – Fire in My Bones

    Various Artists - Fire in My Bones.

    Complied by Chemical Imbalance and Yeti publisher Mike McGonigal, Fire in My Bones is a thoroughly combustible set of Raw and Rare and Otherworldly African-American Gospel. We’re talking no less than 88 tracks sprayed out over three CDs exhaustively crammed full of blazing post-World War II church music. The bulk of the material spans from the 1950s through the 1970s, with a handful of tracks from the ’80s and ’90s and even one from 2007. My favorite cuts tend to be early ones–the more raw and low-fidelity, the better! Take Elder Beck’s fiery, wild and wooly “Rock and Roll Sermon” (1956), for example, which preaches against the “moral decay” that the newly-emerging rock music wrought upon young people. Ironically, Elder’s performance is just as raucous as that of the rockers. Or Sister Ola Mae Terrell’s gloriously out of tune guitar strumning and soulful throat wailing that make “How Long” (1948) light a fire under your ass. Nathaniel Rivers simply stabs the stale, sweaty air with some seriously scalding singing on “The Wicked Shall Cease From Troubling” (1973). And that’s only three out of 27 tracks on disc one!

    Some highlights of disc two include the perky guitar fingerpicking and intense, warbling, throaty shouts that emanate from Rev. Utah Smith on “God’s Mighty Hand” (1944). Joe Townsend gets a congregation all fired up during “If I Could Not Say a Word” (1970) with his passionately sung sermon supported by a sublimely plucked, trancy guitar line. The Rev. GW Killens coaxes a congregation to join right in as he sings, “Father I Stretch My Arm to Thee” (1946). The backup singers’ physical distance from the mic creates a strange, dreamy effect. The True Loving Five’s “Lord, Hold My Hand” (1977) boasts some of the most soulful, moving acapella singing ever. Boyd Rivers’ “Fire Shed In My Bones” (1985) closes the disc with some absolutely scorched guitar and inflamed, guttural, screaming vocals.

    Disc three shows off (good and) plenty of righteously out-of-tune electric guitar slash ‘n’ strum during songs like Ike Gordon’s “Don’t Let the Devil Ride” (1975), Rev. Billy H. Grady’s “Holy Rock” (1965) and John Boswell’s “The Very Last Mile” (1989). In the vocal department, the lead singer of the BC Harmonizers emits some screams on “You Ought to Been There” (1969) that would blast James Brown’s hair down flat. Even spoken word is represented with a pretty zoned sermon of cosmic dimensions delivered by Bishop McDaniel on “Introduction / Rock Daniels” (1988). And there’s so much more: street corner preachers; full-blown choirs; funny, homely Hammond organ ditties, etc. The whole thing comes folded up in a four-panel cardboard jacket adorned with photos of a few of the picturesque characters that made the music. A 24-page booklet of notes and a few more photos rounds out this collection, which is a must-have for any serious gospel / roots of rock ‘n’ roll freak.

    Label: Tompkins Square Catalog Number: TSQ 2271 Format: 3-CD Packaging: Mini-LP foldout Tracks: Disc 1: 27, Disc 2: 27, Disc 3: 26 Total Time: Disc 1: 79:45, Disc 2: 78:52, Disc 3: 77:53 Country: United States Released: 2009 More: Amazon, Discogs, Official

    Text ©2010 Arcane Candy

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