Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Daughters of Reverend Williams

mid-week gospel

Be prepared, folks, tonight the bells strike up a merry peal! I, once again, return to one of the LPs of the fabulous Loving Sisters of Little Rock.

You can hear on this blog a number of songs from their 1970's LPs, so tonight we'll go back further in time, and actually as much you can when following up the Loving Sisters' career, all the way back to their first Peacock LP, Trying Time (PLP # 125), released in May 1965. As their later allbums, this LP offers consistently outstanding material and, a fact especially noteworthy, this material is mainly self-penned (penned by the group's leader Gladys Williams-Givens-McFadden, that is). It is not much of the standard studio LP, that is, all the songs being recorded for the occasion. Rather, the tunes featured were recorded between 1962 and 1965, and some were previously released on 45s, viz. Peacock # 3011 (1962) and # 3027 (1964); a third 45, Peacock # 3060, seems to have been released more or less at the same time as the LP, in 1965. They all were recorded, over the years mentioned, in Houston's Gold Star Studios (see Andy Bradley / Roger Wood: House of Hits. The Story of Houston's Gold Star Recording Studios, Austin 2010, p. 109 for details). So this LP is kind of a summary of the Loving Sisters' early work for Peacock; it also contains one song with the Sisters' father, Reverend Williams, singing the lead vocals.

Because there is not much known about the Loving Sisters, I hope it might be interesting to some of you to read the liner notes from the back cover of their 1965 Peacock LP; the relevant parts - leaving out all generic panegyrics praising the group's excellence, which I take for granted - are the following:
Their singing career started when they were very young. The girls, Leona, Lorraine, Josephine, Anner (!) and Gladys, the original members. The daughters of Reverend and Mrs. Aaron Williams. Reverend Williams pastored a small church and Mrs. Williams served as Choir Directress. During those years the girls participated in the church singing activities along with their two brothers Archie and Luther.
     When Gladys (the baby girl) reached the age of nine she organized the girls group and they performed at the church and along with the school glee clubs ... At twelve years she began to compose her own compositions. When these songs were performed by the girls, the audiences were amazed at the fact that young children could display the words of God so emphatically ...
     In 1951, the girls faced a sudden shock at the death of Leona, the oldest sister. It was some time before they recovered from the loss and attempted to continue their career. They accepted a new member Bobbie Lewis, to fill the vocal vacancy and since then have accepted her as though she were a sister of their family.
     Fortunately in 1962, they were heard by the Pilgrim Jubilee Singers, a professional singing group. They recommended the girls contact Peacock Records Inc., in regards to becoming members of the Peacock Spiritual Family. The group auditioned and was accepted for recording. At the first session their favorite selection (and what they felt most appropriate) »Who Can Ask For More,« was recorded and and later released as their initial Peacock effort. The record sold very well and The Loving Sisters joined with Reverend C.L. Franklin for their first personal appearance tour. The tour proved successful and offered quite an experience for the girls. Since then they have toured the United States many times and many recordings have been recorded and sold. Including such favorites as »Don't Let My Running Be In Vain,« »Sing Your Troubles Away,« »Fix Me« and the ever popular »Trying Time,« which was written by Gladys in a small Mississippi town, during the time the Sisters were participating in a freedom march ...
     The Loving Sisters recently added another member Mary Moore, who serves when needed as vocalist and also designs costumes for the group.
As for the names mentioned in the first paragraph, »Anner« should of course be »Anna« (or »Ann«), and the spelling of the names in general deviates in more than one case from the names as we find them on their 1970's LP (check them here). But it matters not.

The song »Don't Let My Running Be In Vain«, mentioned in the notes on the back cover, was copyrighted by Gladys Givens in Dec. 1962, presumably recorded around that time and subsequently released on Peacock # 3011 (B-side). You can hear it below. It's a beautiful example of a song that comes in two parts, the first almost lyrical, featuring a vocal solo and preparing, with much melodic suspense, for the second part, the second having the background vocals joining in fully. And it comes together with another song from their LP, »Lord Deliver Me«, again penned by Gladys, and only released on this album; it was probably recorded at a later date, possibly in 1965. After an ear-catching piano cascade that opens the song, Glayds powerful voice sets in and, as the song goes on, she cries her soul out. Let not anybody tell me that the Loving Sisters, and their lead singer in particular, have not been underrated in the history of black gospel music!

The Loving Sisters: »Don't Let My Running Be In Vain« / »Deliver Me Lord« from the Peacock LP # 125 (1965):

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday's Twosome # 14

Ain't that good? Uploads are back to normal ... and I actually didn't even plan a post for today, but somehow I didn't want to skip this occasion now that things are working properly again.

Theme song for tonight is first a duet, being Tuesday, and second it's related to my today's mood, viz. »Ain't That Good«, performed by Mavis Staples and Eddie Floyd, from 1969. It was released as Stax # 0041 (B-side) and on the double album Boy Meets Girl (about the latter see more here).
So we have another Mavis-call today, which is fine with me. It'll be fine with you as well, I hope. Here we go ...

Mavis Staples & Eddie Floyd: »Ain't That Good« from the Stax LP # STS-2-2024 (1969):

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dried Up

Hmm, as most of you will have realized by now, one of our beloved upload facilities, and unfortunately the one I am using, has been down since two days ... it looks rather serious and who knows when things will get back to normal. Until then, this blog is pretty much dried up ...

Best thing I can do for now is to direct your attention to a relative newcomer on the neo-soul scene (or whatever you like to call it), who is not, like for example Nina Zilli, a complete clone of the late Amy Winehouse and gifted with only a mediocre voice ... I am speaking of Y'Akoto, who is most promising and had her first album out some months ago. Chances are that she's not yet known in the US, so I might as well hype her up a bit. So take a look at this video:

Friday, May 25, 2012

... What's Not To Be Done

Give me a list of what's not to be done and I'll start doin' it today ... unfortunately, my list of things to do contained only stuff to be done immediately ... so this blog went into something of an extended spring break which then lasted for about six weeks, much longer than I anticipated. Suffice it to say that, apart from profes- sional activities, I was still busy with moving, painting walls (in an apartment I left towards the end of April), looking for new furniture ... not to speak of my LPs and 45s which, in their boxes, are waiting to find a new home on the wall.

However, things are moving (literally & metaphorically), and somehow today felt right for re-opening this blog. Let's hope I can keep it up ... Shirley Ellis's 1963 B-side »Give Me A List« shall remind me that there'll be days coming less filled with frenzied activity ... and maybe even the day when my list will tell me only what's not to be done! Shirley's song comes together with her chart-breaker, »The Nitty Gritty«, recorded in September '63 and climbing up the charts in early 1964, making it into the Top Ten pop. The 45 was out in late October '63.

From Billboard, Nov. 9, 1963
I still like the B-side of this 45 better than the famous A-side, because the sound quality of Shirley's Nitty Gritty isn't exactly fabu- lous. (If somebody knows whether her version of »Nitty Gritty« is a fake live recording actually produced in the studio, please tell me; I have always suspected that and remember having read so one day, but don't remember where it was). Still, Shirley's second single was her first big success and paved her way for more to come. Enjoy!

Shirley Ellis & the Hutch Davie Orchestra and Chorus:
»Give Me A List« / »The Nitty Gritty« on Congress # CG-202 (1963):