Most helpful positive review
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LIKE THE TITLE SAYS-"RAW"-BUT IT'S AWESOME
on October 26, 2011
Three discs-72,79,74 minutes each approximately. The discs slip inside a quad-fold cardboard holder. The sound ranges from fairly good to somewhat muffled/scratchy-but it doesn't really matter with music like this-it's the message that's important, and the atmospheric sound seems to, somehow, deepen the impact. The booklet lists each track chronologically, and there's a few sentences about each track-which helps to understand this music a little better. There's also a few b&w photos of the performers, and reproductions of various record labels-a nice touch.
The idea to base this collection on 45 RPM singles was smart. These recordings have no grand plan, no grand album length message. We're in "everyman" territory-so the message is short and to the point-get your message across quickly with a minimum of fuss (and expense), and spread the "word". The message had to be immediate, focused, and convincing. The very use of 45's brought this music to virtually anyone who wanted to hear it. Cheap to record, they were for the congregation, the local neighborhood, or (maybe) regionally.
And on the best of these recordings (and there's a lot here), there's a fervor, a "get right-now" feeling. These songs take a hold of you, and strips bare all the pretense, all the nonsense, and focuses on what's really important. In some ways, this collection is even better than the "Fire In My Bones" collection from 2009. The combination of modern instruments (if there's any at all), and the convincing, (sometimes) declamatory shouting of the performers is truly exciting. The sound of the organ is straight out of the church. The drum machines are rudimentary and typical of their time. The a capella singing is satisfyingly rough. The spoken sermons are electrifying, and their congregations are full of fervor and conviction from another era. But it's the quieter, but no less intense, tracks that give this set a real depth and identity. By their very nature, these tracks have that subtle power that cause you to really stop and listen. And that gives their messages even more weight, more intensity. In this compilation you'll hear bits of r&b, blues, pop, r'n'r, and even a bit of country music-all mixed with gospel. Sort of garage-gospel if you will. Someone got enough money together to record a 45 and then release it locally-what's more "garage" than that?
I could easily see another volume following along the same path as this fine compilation. Hopefully, enough people will seek this out as they did the previous "Fire In My Bones" set. Lately, there seems to be a lot of older gospel music collections seeing release-some of them very fine. And this collection can easily sit alongside the best of those. One listen and you'll hear what I mean. This music was almost lost (or maybe was lost) to gospel fans. Once again, the folks at Tompkins Square and Mike McGonigal have rescued music that deserves a better fate. Listen and be transported back to any number of preachers, churches, congregations, from times long since past. This is honest, visceral, real deal gospel.