Saturday, 29 June 2013

It Is No Secret - The Sensational Nightingales

This is a favourite gospel recording of mine which I only found on youtube recently. I first heard it on Viv Broughton's 1985 Black Gospel compilation, a tie-in with his book of that name, later reworked as Too Close to Heaven.

As far as I remember the tracklisting was arranged so that you heard the Sensational Nightingales' harrowing New Burying Ground, with Julius Cheeks sending the recording equipment into overload, then this performance which, in that context, felt like a kind of reward: you needed it, a note of hope, after what you'd just been through. I wrote of New Burying Ground in an earlier post:
It's difficult to tell whether the other group members' rough-hewn harmonies are actually supporting Cheeks or goading him into an ecstasy of torment.
But there is a kind of stately joy about It Is No Secret: although Cheeks does get a bit more frantic as it goes on he seems contained, consoled, by the other members of the group, and the choruses build in a very satisfying way, and you feel you've arrived somewhere by the end.

 That's what I say anyway. But I was thinking of giving a talk on gospel music for a group of students recently, and I realised how little, beyond the broadest brushstrokes, I actually knew or could articulate, so maybe not. An alternative is to use my post about Stand By Me as the basis for a quick scamper through doowop, gospel and soul, which may be a better bet. If that does come off, I will put up audio here.

Actually, why don't I put up New Burying Ground AND It Is No Secret here? I've got a feeling New Burying Ground is no longer accessible in the earlier post. And you too can enjoy the effect of Viv Broughton's inspired pairing of these two great recordings.

Technical note: It Is No Secret is pretty good sound. New Burying Ground isn't, but I don't think the original was that great.

Oh, and I've just bought a copy of How Sweet It Was - a DVD/CD set  with notes by gospel authority Anthony Heilbut and presumably compiled by him. I may write about that later. But I can feel myself wanting to get to the end of this post, to return to my non-online (or offline, I  suppose you'd cry it) project. All shall be revealed in time. 

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