Thursday, March 15, 2007

Deep Soul Devastation, Gospel Style

Rev. Julius Cheeks - Just Crying

I know that usually gospel tunes don't appear on the blog during the week, but I was listening to today's selection on the way to work and knew that it was today's pick. Gospel music didn't necessarily always deal with salvation, blessings or warnings to the unchurched. Sometimes gospel songs dipped into pretty dark territory, telling sad stories that even soul singers usually didn't touch, and not necessarily offering much religious content. Most of such songs involved death and the sadness it brings, despite religious belief in a positive afterlife. Songs like "Children In The Fire" by The C Lord C's (Su-Ann) touched on the tragedies of sudden death and a great many songs addressed the sorrow of the passing of "dear old Mother." Julius Cheeks' 1970 Peacock recording "Just Crying" finds the gospel legend describing his happenstance attendance at a child's funeral. After his opening, which has a "Crying in the Chapel" motif, Cheeks settles into his customary practice of narrating songs and letting the background singers do most of the work. (As I mentioned in a prior post, Cheeks' voice was ravaged after a career fronting the Sensational Nightingales.) But when Cheeks opens up in the choruses, the pain and anguish in his voice hits like a hammer. I can see how gospel audiences ate this up when it came out, but it's equally as strong a deep soul record as anything that came out in those days.

"Just Crying" was included on the Julius Cheeks Sings LP on Peacock, which was comped along with the Swan Silvertones' I Found The Answer and the Sunset Travelers' On Jesus Program over a decade years ago on Raisin' The Roof, a great boxed set on Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. The whole set is worth hearing, especially the Cheeks material and the Sunset Travelers LP, on which a young O.V. Wright shows off how good a gospel singer he was before he switched to R&B and Peacock's Back Beat label. The two-disc set has long been out of print, for which I despaired when I loaned out my set and never got it back, but my good friend John Glassburner was so kind to make this track his "Gospel Pick of the Day" on the Yahoo! Southern Soul group and share it with me.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - The feedback about ZShare has been more negative than positive, particularly in technological aspects, and unless I hear strongly otherwise, I'm going to go back to GoDaddy next week.)

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