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Nuggets Of The Golden Age Of Gospel 1945-1958 (4 CD)


JSP (JSP77126)

Soul Stirrers, Wynona Carr, Traveling Four, Southern Travelers, Five Blind Boys Of Alabama, Marie Knight, Staple Singers, Highway QCs, Willie Dixon, Gospel Songbirds, Swanee Quintet, Sam Cooke, Mighty Clouds Of Joy, Dixie Hummingbirds, Hightower Brothers, OV Wright, Mitchellaires Quintet, Bells Of Joy and many more.

What a fabulous set this is. As the compiler, gospel expert Opal Louis Nations explains - ‘this set is of particular significance for two reasons. First is that no other post-war set has covered Afro-American gospel and included as many soloists who later went on to make larger reputations in other musical disciplines. Secondly, no other post-war box set covers as many aspects of the music stream. Many are reissued for the first time, one would be hard put to find a more expansive picture of golden age gospel singing anyplace else'.

Well, he might as well blow is own angelic trumpet as he is speaking the truth. Look at the names that went on to bigger stardom after their tenure as gospel artists - Johnny Taylor (from the Soul Stirrers), Della Reece (Meditations), Ollie Nightingale (Dixie Nightingales), Candi Staton (Jewel Gospel Trio), Nappy Brown (Selah Jubilee Singers), OV Wright (Sunset Travelers), Joe Hinton (Spirit Of Memphis), Sam Cooke (Soul Stirrers) and the biggest surprise to me - Sly Stone and Sister Rose who recorded with the Stewart Family on Walking In Jesus Name from 1952!

As far as the ‘expansive picture' of gospel is concerned, Opal's got that nailed too. There's a huge range of great music from the big names (Rosetta Tharpe, Golden Gate Quartet, Staple Singers, Dorothy Love Coates, Marie Knight) to the more obscure (Sister Ethel Davenport, Rosa Shaw, Afro Quintette, Skylight Singers) as well as surprise appearances from other singers who went on to perform the devil's music (Ann Cole, Gene Allison, Willie Dixon). There's even the little mystery of Sinatra singing I've Got A Home In That Rock with The Charioteers...

The four CDs are filled to the brim with track upon track of supreme performances - from the lush jubilee harmony of the Golden Gate Quartet and the Deep River boys to the joyful clanging guitar gospel of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Then there's the sheer awesome power of the male groups like the Spirit Of Memphis, The Violinaires and the Mighty Clouds of Joy and the precision of the female groups like the Caravans, the Gospel Consolators and the Roberta Martin Singers. Every track, as it says on the box, is a nugget. 

There are one hundred and five tracks in this boxset and once you start listening, the hair-raising moments come thick and fast. Opal Louis Nations and JSP have produced one of the greatest gospel compilations we'll ever hear. Ain't that the truth brothers and sisters!

Review first posted to this website November 2009

Review Date: April 2018

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