Filed under: Dynamic, Good God!, Iasos, JR., Lists, Medusa, Mind & Matter, Unwound
In 2005, our friend Breck T. Bunce shared a mix disc with us of gospel songs through the lens of American funk. A handful of those songs would end up on NUM010 Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal, sending us down a path that would later touch down in Local Customs: Downriver Revival, Good God! Born Again Funk, and Boddie Recording Co.: Cleveland, Ohio. Earlier this month we issued our third volume in the Good God! series, NUM040 Good God! Apocryphal Hymns, which brought us full circle to our original 18 song collection with the second appearance of Melvin Kenniebrew’s Sensational Saints.
Some may recall Preacher & the Saints’ “Jesus Rhapsody” as the opening cut on Hymnal. But before Melvin was Preacher, he was just one of a revolving cast of Saints that had been operating in the Cleveland area since the late ’50s. The Sensational Saints issued an LP and a handful of 45s on James Bullard’s BOS label, several of which are being collected on our King Bullard Versions: Songs of the BOS Label LP this June. As the Saints were the best known group on the label, we originally opted to put them on the cover:
This may not be the last time you hear from the Saints. We accidentally mastered their You Won’t Believe It (Try Us You’ll Like It) LP earlier this year and need to find something to do with it. Gospel, however, is likely a genre we won’t be revisiting for a couple years. Those seeking salvation can use this checklist in the meantime:
NUM010 Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal
NUM026 Local Customs: Downriver Revival
NUM030 Good God! Born AGain Funk
NUM040 Good God! Apocryphal Hymns
44003 Shirley Ann Lee: Songs of Light
44004 King Bullard Versions: Songs of the BOS Label
JR.009 Otis G. Johnson: God Is Love
In honor of our latest entry into the Good God! series being released today, we’ve bought air time in a handful of minor markets in hopes of penetrating the real gospel music world. If you’re not living in Birmingham, AL, Chattanooga, TN, Shreveport, LA, or Gulfport, MS, and not awake between the hours of 3 and 4 AM, your best bet at catching the spot is by tapping the play arrow on the screen above.
In May 2013, The Numero Group will add three unique titles to the gospel canon. The first is the third entry into the Good God! series, the second the fourth album in our Folkways-inspired Numerophon line, and the third a pixel for pixel replica of one of the most damaged, outsider gospel LPs ever recorded.
Good God! Apocryphal Hymns CD / 2LP
The third installment in Numero’s series of otherworldly gospel, robed funk, and spiritual soul, Apocryphal Hymns is a slim new gospel songbook, penned powerfully by the genre’s lesser-known disciples. Here, heavenly harmonies, psychedelic guitars, damaged sacred steel, a bleeding french horn, off-kilter choirs, and consumer-side electronic percussion decorate the Word, with performance modes that stray far from the flock, but hew always to the message. In homage to the the stock jacket record industry of the 1970s, select one of these four alternate covers: Woodland Twilight, Seashore Morning, Mountain Waterfall, and Sunbeam Canyon.
01. Robert Vanderbilt & the Foundation Of Souls – A Message Especially From God
02. Spiritual Harmonizers – God’s Love
03. Sensational Saints – That’s All I Need
04. Otis G. Johnson – Walk With Jesus
05. Shelton Kilby – Poor Wayfaring Stranger
06. Jonah Thompson – Get Involved
07. Dwain Vinyard – Searching For The Truth
08. Supreme Jubilees – It’ll All Be Over
09. Religious Souls – Sinner Man
10. Gospel Clouds – Let Us Pray
11. Flying Eagles Gospel Singers – Can’t Run This Race Alone
12. Soul Superiors – Faith
13. God’s Band – Come Holy Spirit
14. Whole Truth – Can You Lose By Following God
15. Fantastic Goldenaires of Rocky Mount, NC – Thank You Lord
16. Wayne & Thelma and the McAllister Singers – Peace When He Comes
17. Francis Reneau & the Mission Singers – I Hear You Calling
18. Bernard Upshaw Singers – Have You Tried Jesus
19. Chester Lewis – Precious Lord
20. Kenneth Day – No Harm Done Calling On Jesus (LP only)
On Cleveland’s late ’60s gospel scene, the BOS label was the refined, professional ying to Boddie’s lo-fi yang, galloping to the fore bearing a torch for Curtis Mayfield’s robe-wearing roots. Founded by gospel impresario James Bullard, BOS is the first chapter in story that includes stints producing major spiritual albums for the Birthright, Roadshow, and Word labels. BOS got its start inside Lester Johnson and Bill Branch’s Way Out concern, running the devotional wing of Cleveland’s largest black-owned record company, and picking up a ton of Way Out’s soulful flavor in the process. Compiled here are BOS’s less traditional moments—12 bridges between FM R&B and AM sermons from a time when those worlds were splitting apart.
Sensational Saints – The War Is Over
Trumplettes – My Life Will Be Sweeter
Mighty Imperials – Unity
Trumpelettes – I’ve Been To The Top Of The Mountain
Mighty Imperials – We Need Him Now
Sensational Saint – Walk Through The Valley
BOS Singers – Move Satan
Capitalaires – Glory, Glory
Southern Echoes – Why Am I Treated So Bad
Philip Brown The Friendly Seven – I Had A Talk
Trumpelettes – You Don’t Know My Trouble
Southern Echoes – Burden Down
Otis G. Johnson Everything – God Is Love 78
For outsider gospel visionary and Detroit native Otis G. Johnson, the Holy Ghost was in the machine…in this case a rhythm-equipped Hammond organ. Everything – God Is Love 78, a singular 1978 mid-fi document, features android percussion against chords of Otis’s own invention, possessed by minor tonality and frequent bum notes. Lifting it further are extemporaneous vocal homilies to the rapture, love, and everything, plus occasional “other” voicings that scratch at the periphery of the mix. Homespun gospel rarely entered this dirge-like, intuitive space, nor did it commonly achieve such a spectral and captivating hymn to its darkest conventions.
Filed under: Good God!
Our upcoming 040 Good God!: Apocryphal Hymns has plans for swinging its listeners wildly, from the shockingly singular sounds of Chester Lewis’s guitar prayer to the one-size-fits-all inspirational imagery of classic custom LP covers like this one:
But as we plow through the final preparations for our 9000-words-strong set of liner notes, we realized that you hardly need to hear the contents of this record to get a fairly serious sip of the juice. The insanely colorful place names involved kind of do that just fine. Really try to see and hear these now, or it won’t work right:
• Belize City, Belize
• Idar-Oberstein, Germany
• Stuttgart, Arkansas
• Waterproof, Louisiana
• Poole Deading, Mississippi
• Wilberforce University
• A Pepsi-Cola bottling plant
• A Cadillac factory line
• Klondike (an urban American neighborhood, not a gold-laden Canadian frontier)
• 99 Notre Dame Avenue
• Farm to Market 274 Road
…and last but not least:
• 10053 South Kumquat Street
You can’t make shit like this up…but do read about it, starting on 5/21 when Apocryphal Hymns hits shelves. We won’t even go into surnames here, except to say this: M. Fugazy played a mean synth.
Filed under: Good God!
God’s Band’s 1997 low-rider gospel-soul anomaly “Come Holy Spirit” took a rather circuitous path to release. Built around the Arostigui brothers Alex, Richard, David, and Daniel, ministering on guitar, vocals, drums, and hand percussion and timbales, respectively, and featuring bassist Jimmy “Jam” Sabala, vocalists Larry Vigil and his brother Aron Salas, and keyboardist Ray Palacios, God’s Band erupted out of Victory Outreach’s San Jose, California branch, then located at 99 Notre Dame in 1981. A church-only group, the octet cut a series of low-fidelity soulero originals, including “Nobody Like My Lord”, “We’re Going Home” and “Come Holy Spirit” before disbanding two years later.
Fifteen years later Alex Arostigui and Aron Salas both had taken up with the Christian oldies, street evangelism band, Full Effect but a desire lingered to return to their abandoned originals from the previous decade. Holed up in a make shift recording studio in the church offices of Victory Outreach, then located on Monterey Road, Alex and Aron revisited their past with a new cast of characters. In addition to Alex’s 13-year-old son, Isaac Arostigui on percussion, God’s Band 2.0 consisted of bassist Vince Sorrentino, keyboardist Eddie Zepeda, drummer Robert Gaeta, vocalists Myrna Geovany and Clara Maestas. An album’s worth of tracks were recorded over the summer of ’97, including a remake of “Come Holy Spirit” and issued as Going Home: Cruisin With The Oldies—Volume 2 the following fall on cassette and CD. Sold exclusively through Victory Outreach International conferences and services, the limited disc and tape disappeared in a matter of months and was then promptly forgotten. At least internally.
Elsewhere, Cruisin with The Oldies Volume 2 was being discovered by an audience more interested in cruising than praying. God’s Band’s “Thank Him For His Love” turned up on a bootleg Gangster Soul compilation CD—the only modern recording among 20 sweet soul non-hits from the ’60s and ’70s. A few years later a 45 of mysterious origins and questionable fidelity found its way to market. That single, issued on the V.O. label, was credited to Brother Aron Salas on “Thank Him For His Love,” and Sister Lydia & Sister Merna on “Come Holy Spirit.” But there was no Sister Lydia, and more importantly, no mention of God’s Band. The leap from tape to CD to 45 gave the songs a dicey fidelity, adding age and character to what was in all reality a fairly recent recording. Isaac Arostigui, now half a life time removed from those sessions, harbors no ill will: “It’s a blessing these songs made it this far. God always had big plans for this music.”
“Come Holy Spirit” will be available on 040 Good God! Apocryphal Hymns in May.
Filed under: Good God!
Good God! Apocryphal Hymns is a left-of-center collection of gospel tunes in a variety of moods, from saintly to joyously insane. The Gospel Clouds of Oakland, California fall on the smoother side of the spectrum, minting this breezy original in 1967. The Gospel Clouds remained industrious through the ’60s and ’70s, integrating the Bay Area’s talent pool and sound palette with words of praise for several independent gospel releases. Amidst signing Pacific funk progenitors like Merle Saunders, Pleasure, and Side Effect, Fantasty Records made the Gospel Clouds an offer that the group ultimately declined: “If you change the word ‘Jesus’ to ‘Baby’,” recalls bandleader Leonard Lothlen, “we’ll give you $15,000 right now.”
“Let us Pray” by the Gospel Clouds from Good God! Apocryphal Hymns, available this summer on CD and 2LP.