Now you probably have this too, songs,singers,albums, and performances that impacted your musical being forever.
I have quite a few myself and it’ll proof to be impossible to mention all of em right here…but I wanna share the most memorable ones.
Having said that, I just realized that the less memorable ones are just as significant as the most memorable.
They too are part of the framework of your musical mind..all important from a reference point of view.
But still there are some ‘landmarks‘ in your musical journey of appreciation or recognition.
The latter being ‘recognition‘ is an ingredient that is elementary for your musical meal….sort of taste and hear, and know it’s all good.
Well the first memorable musical experience that I had, was when my father got a complimentary record when he bought a wristwatch. This was back in the mid seventies, the time grown up men wore orange shirts with apple green ties, and chocolate-brown polyester suits.T he album was a low-budget compilation of the Delta Rhythm Boys on the Variety label, it had an orange sleeve jacket that sported a drawing of an old record player on it.
So I guess not only men were dressed bad in these days..but records too!
But as always it’s not about the outside, it’s the inside, the actual content that matters.
And the content of this album was amazing, the first song on Side A was the Don Gibson tune ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You made popular by the likes of Ray Charles and Elvis Presley. But the version of the Delta’s is unmatched in vigor and harmony.
Another song on that album that really got my attention was Nat ‘Cannonball’ Adderley’s ‘Work Song’ that featured one of the greatest basses ever to sing Lee Gaines…in my opinion the best bass singer in music period!
The jazz standard ‘There is No Greater Love’ featuring tenor Herb Coleman is hauntingly beautiful..who wailed with a feline quality, never sharp but clear as a bell.
This quartet was organized in the 30’s at Langston Univ. Oklahoma and were featured in more motion pictures than any other singing group, in more than 40 pictures they could be seen.
This quartet was the favorite of the legendary Mills Brothers, and Lee Gaines was the reason bass singer for The Ravens (doo wop group) Jimmy Ricks started singing. The Delta’s popularity took them to Paris,Stockholm,Oslo,London and Helsinki Finland where Lee Gaines took residence.
The group had been together more than 50 years when founder Lee Gaines died on July 15th, 1987, in his home of only one year, Helsinki, Finland. In a bizarre scenario that brought the group more attention in America than it had received in more than 30 years, Hugh Bryant (baritone) sang at Lee Gaines’ funeral and upon completing the song died on the spot.
Though not as well-known as some other groups in America, the Rhythm Boys’ musical impact is undeniable.
This group sparked my love for quartet music, the record that he was given by the jeweler was truly a gem (to me).
Another album that impacted me immensely featured a group i first heard on a Gospel album by Elvis…singing a song by Ralph Carmichael ‘Reach out to Jesus’ amazing backup singing..the oohs and the aaahs..the swelling of the chorus..with Elvis powerful voice reaching a climax on the words ‘He’s reaching out to me!!’
Also on that album…probably the best version of Bill Gaither’s ‘He Touched Me’ . The only version that rivals that one, is the version the Vocal Band did on their album‘God is Good’..featuring Mark Lowry,David,Guy and Bill. The Presley rendition is closest to my heart though..and the Imperials had something to do with it. Jim Murray,Terry Blackwood,Greg Gordon,Joe Moscheo and Armond Morales made up the group in ’71 the year the Grammy winning Elvis album “He Touched Me” was recorded.
Just when i thought I’ve heard the best live album ever by a southern gospel quartet (Travelin’Live-Cathedrals), I found myself laying on my bed at the Ramada Inn in Downtown Nashville back in ’89, where I slid a tape cassette in my Sony walkman. A cassette I just bought at Ernest Tubb’s record store, on that bed I came to the conclusion that I ain’t heard nothing yet!
The album was “Live in Atlanta” also by The Cathedrals, never heard Glen Payne sing more beautiful than on ‘We Shall See Jesus’ nor have I ever heard Kirk Talley sing more angelic than on ‘Lord I Want to Love You More’. Mark Trammell’s feature on the beautiful ‘It’s So Peaceful’…George Younce funny stories and introduction on ‘We Are So Blessed’ are one of a kind…musically all stellar performances.
The Live in Atlanta album is one of the most memorable albums to me.
Another group that got my attention was an ensemble named The King’s Singers from Great Britain.
The group takes its name from King’s College Cambridge, where members Martin Lane, Al Hume, Alastair Thompson, Richard Salter, Simon Carrington and Brian Kay were choral scholars.
I once attended a live concert in ‘Amsterdam’ of these guys at the world-renowned classical music shrine‘Amsterdam Concert Gebouw’…here come down the stairs six gentlemen clad in black tie…to take their designated spots on the stage.
After the audience settles down…the sextet starts singing a song entitled ‘It was almost like a song’ that Ronnie Milsap also did, but now voices only, no amplification, and yet every single attendee hears every breath and intricate harmony as if they were sitting next to them.
They sing songs from the Beatles songbook, Gregorian chants, Randy Newman, David Bowie and a Noel Coward composition entitled ‘I’ll See You Again”.The group’s made up of two counter-tenors,tenor, two baritones, and a bass and they are worldclass.
As far as old Gospel Quartets go…and their albums…I would dare say that LPM1605 on RCA/Victor by the Statesmen Qt is by far the best album ever made.
The group at that time 1958 consisted of Hovie, Jake,Chief,Doy and Cat Freeman (Vestal Goodman’s brother) hear Jake sing ‘God is my Shepard’ and ‘Wonderful‘…here the modern harmony on ‘When My Master Walks With Me’ written by Doy Ott…the latter whom I consider to be the finest baritone in any quartet. This is truly the best album they made, the sound of the album is superb (especially for that time). This album is one of the foundations of my gospel collection
As you probably can read is, that although my musical appreciation goes beyond Gospel music, it takes a Gospel Qt to get me to where it all comes together for me…nothing can top good male harmony.
Something takes place in me…that is is beyond description…harmony hits home every time.