TESTIFY! The Soul Stirrers, The Staples Singers, Five Blind Boys of Alabama, etc:  Jesus Rocked the Jukebox

Back when I was growing up in the church, there was a popular song titled “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?”. I later learned that with all things concerning Satan, he didn’t create what later became “rock and roll”; he stole it from the church, as this wonderful 2 disc set from Concord testifies from the pulpit.

It’s common knowledge that artists like Ray Charles essentially “secularized” the beat, drive and vocals from the black church and turned it into pop hits by changing “God” to “Her.” Here, you get the pure and undiluted energy as it was emitted on a typical Sunday, with the Swan Silvertones rolling in the aisles on “How I Got Over” or the pre-pop Staple Singers preaching to the choir on “Let Me Ride.”

Singers that made their names in the “soul” field such as Sam Cooke and his gorgeous rendition of “Jesus Gave Me Water,” while songs that became rock staples are featured here back in the church, such as “This May Be The Last Time” by the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama,” while their “People Don’t Sing Like They Used to Sing” has Clarence Fountain in full preaching form.

The forty songs are basically divided into high energy Pentacostal pumpers such as Swingin’ On the Golden Gate” , velvet-harmonied spirituals such as The Swan Silvertones’ “Mary Don’t You Weep” and “After Awhile” by the Pilgrim Travelers” and shouting sisters as on “Sit Down, Servant.”

And, just in case you’re the type that think that the walls would collapse on you if you ever darkened the church doors, I initially got into this music by my secular Jewish best friend. He was a big fan of avant garde jazz and black gospel because “this is the only music that comes from the soul.” Need I say more?


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