Various Fire In My Bones: Raw & Rare & Otherworldly African-American Gospel (1944-2007)

Various Fire In My Bones: Raw & Rare & Otherworldly African-American Gospel (1944-2007)

The mission of this mammoth three-disc collection is made clear from the outset with Elder Beck's "Rock And Roll Sermon." Recorded during a 1956 service, Beck begins by preaching about the negative effects that rock'n'roll has had on society, from kids stealing cars to one young man shooting his mother upon returning from a concert. Yet, as Beck's sermon reaches its crescendo, his backing musicians are playing the Devil's music better than any popular artist of the day. Black gospel music has always been acknowledged as an important component of early R&B and rock'n'roll, but with few artists in the genre ever "crossing over" to the mainstream, much of this influence has been forgotten. Full credit must therefore be given to compiler Mike McGonigal, who has rescued an astonishing selection of music, much of it by performers who made only a scant few recordings. Thankfully, McGonigal doesn't profess to be an academic, sequencing the three discs in a way that gets the message across with maximum impact. Sermons are followed by field recordings, while street singers are sometimes followed by surprisingly funky studio groups, such the Amazing Farmer Singers of Chicago, whose "I Got A Telephone In My Bosom" (from 1975) wouldn't sound out of place on the Rolling Stones' Goat's Head Soup. It may be disingenuous to describe each track on Fire In My Bones as a revelation, but that's precisely the case. As more of this music is rediscovered, the more the origins of rock'n'roll must be reassessed. This compilation leaves little doubt that the early rockers hardly had the market cornered on wild abandon; it seems that Sunday mornings were often more raucous than Saturday nights. (Tomkins Square)