on December 28, 2007
I have been a fan of Sister Rosetta Tharpe ever since I purchased an old Boogie Woogie piano compilation LP on eBay. Included was one of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's songs, accompanied by pianist Sammy Price. I immediately played the song again when I first heard it--it was so great. Although I am not a gospel music fan, I bought other LPs and CDs of hers, and am still amazed by her guitar virtuoisity. Many present-day jazz and rock musicians learned how to play guitar by listening to her records.
This 2 cd compilation shows her at her peak, with her witty lyrics and songs that leave you feeling great. The recordings sound excellent, despite their age. Four songs feature her mother, Katie Bell Nubin, who must have been around 70 when these were recorded.
Favorites include: He Watches Me (acccompanied by Marie Knight), My Lord's Gonna Move This Wicked Race, Ain't No Room in the Church for Liars, Little Boy How Old Are You, Ninety Nine and a Half Won't Do, Daniel in the Lion's Den, Somebody Needs Jesus, and Sin is to Blame.
Fans of Sister Tharpe will have to have this one.
on November 1, 2013
Sister Rosetta Tharpe's simple and understated early work, as found on the first two editions of "Complete Sister Rosetta Tharpe" justified fully her reputation as a pioneer in the field of rock and roll. Even without the accompaniment everybody nowadays expects from the genre, it is remarkably easy to hear the basics in a way no singer so far back is capable of.
This third volume of "Complete Sister Rosetta Tharpe" shows her in a definite decline. By and large, the simple, direct power that even with the recording technology available in the 1930s and 1940s is not nearly so evident on most tracks here: it is striking to compare pieces like "This Train" with what Tharpe did in 1938 or 1939: there is little of the direct power and sense of destiny about which she sang so forcefully on her first volume and to a lesser extent on the second, and the addition of extra vocal and instrumental (piano) accompaniment is also done less effectively. An exception is the beautiful "No Room in Church for Liars", from which I first aimed to acquired this third set, but whose deeply experiential story seems to be lost on what Tharpe and music partner Marie Knight did on later interpretations of such familiar pieces as "Didn't It Rain?", "Blessed Assurance", "Rock Me" and "That's All".
It's telling that Tharpe was sufficiently ahead of his time that those she influenced in more modern times were extremely young when she began falling from her early pinnacle. It means her best recordings, for all their power and prophetic technique in style, seldom receive attention except from serious experts willing to dig deep.