Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday Gospel Time!

The Jackson Southernaires - Too Late

Today's selection is one of the first gospel records I remember hearing, along with the Bethlehem Gospel Singers material I have covered in prior posts. The Peacock two-parter "Too Late" by the Jackson Southernaires was different than a lot of the other stuff I was hearing among my parents' records - it was haunting, and although I didn't understand the lyrics, the words "too late" rang out in powerful harmony. As a teenager I rediscovered Part One of the single, but recently I have rediscovered the power of the whole thing, so I present all nine minutes of it for today's selection.

"Too Late" was the group's biggest record for Peacock, and it's clear why it did so well. The dead-slow groove is anchored by powerful guitar chords around which an organ line snakes about, and after it sets an ominous tone, the lead vocal begins to address one of the tune's two topics: Part One of the recording warns the unchurched in no uncertain terms that tomorrow is not promised and that they should get right while they have a chance. Part Two tells the tale of a young man who leaves home and ignores his parents, only to come home "too late" to visit his dying mother. It seems to me that the two parts should have been presented in the other order (story first, warning second), but I guess the mentality was that the warning is more important and that Part 1 would get the most airplay, so the evangelical side won out. At any rate, this tune is one of the darkest, deepest records of its era, but it's one of the most awesome.

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