Sunday, June 11, 2006

TV Gospel Time!

The Blind Boys of Alabama - Too Close

The Blind Boys of Alabama are probably the most ubiquitous gospel group in the United States, appearing at gospel events, on secular programs, and recording frequently, both on their own and as guest artists for others, winning scads of Grammys along the way. Not bad for a group that's been around more than sixty years!

Today's selection goes back some ways, being lifted from the group's appearance on the short-lived but influential TV Gospel Time show from the '60s. I first learned of this program from two compilation video tapes that I won on eBay. I have since learned that the show was syndicated nationally and featured all of the great names of gospel. The surviving footage is invaluable, as it easily is the only recorded video of many of the greatest names of gospel music made during gospel's "golden age." The most well-known footage from the show (which is also on the compilations I have) is that of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the famous guitar-slinging gospel singer, doing "Down By The Riverside" and laying down some mean guitar work. The Blind Boys' appearance was also part of that episode, and this powerful performance of Alex Bradford's "Too Close" joins Tharpe's performance as one of the strongest I've seen from the series. Over the group's razor-sharp harmony Clarence Fountain attacks the song like a man possessed, and his call-and-response screams with the group cut like a sword. At some point I seriously need to transfer these videos over to digital format and put some on YouTube or here on the blog. This stuff is too hot for me not to share!

1 comment:

Rob Whatman said...

Ohh, I love this. I've seen the Blind Boys twice, and I have never seen British people jump about and roar with excitement the way they did when Jimmy Carter was carried around the hall, bellowing and testifying to Just Wanna See His Face.