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Mahalia Jackson: How I Got Over (Westside WESX 303) (Sky B000006K88)


Hey now, there...you’ve just found yourself a mid-priced set - comprising the complete best period of very probably the finest-ever female gospel singer...and you (still) need a review? You’re really sure about that? Well...here goes:

...no listener - no matter how allergic to religion - can easily resist...

disc 1: 3, 5-6, 12, 14, 17, 20-21, disc 2: 1-2, 13, 15-18, disc 3: 1-3, 13, 16, 20-1

Not much of a review, eh? Come on, though - I just identified 22 definitely great tracks on one mid-priced three cd set...so, what more you want - balloons?

Look...just buy it. Because, although I’d have to admit that (myself) I’m not that great a fan of gospel as a genre, still...the very best undoubtedly slays me - as do all of the tracks just listed - so...do yourself a favour (now...there’s a “joke”) and please give this one house space. Because, the rewards’ll well repay you...

But - if’n you want/need real convincing...well, there’s only one choice: Disc Three, Track 1: “In the Upper Room (parts 1 & 2)” with the awesome Southern Harmonaires...and, in all of those variations between sublime groove & ecstatic outreach - yes - this one hits the spot...

Hell...buy it for that one alone - because, it’s damn-well worth the price of admission - still, that’d definitely be to shortchange the rest. Because - what about the stunningly swingin’ big band vocal feel of “Said He Would”, or that awesomely spiritual reply to “devotional” doo-wop, “He’s my Light”...still more the bizarre mixtures of “I Wonder if I Will Ever Rest” & “I’m on My Way to Canaan Land”...which seem somehow strangely akin to a more “genuine” 1950s version of “world music” - but, still...that’s not the (real) reason you’ll actually be buying this, I suppose...

Because, to put it bluntly, Mahalia was the Aretha of her day - the late forties/early fifties - even if she never cut a secular side. The fact that this stuff now gets no airplay - and the fact that you’re very likely to have never even heard of it - is solely because Apollo was a small label - and that Columbia/CBS was stupid enough not to buy up the rights to these, her very finest sides, when they became available. Consequently, the shops are (now) clogged w/the later - and much, much weaker major label sides - whilst few but gospel collectors have actually heard Mahalia at her peak. So...catch the first train smokin’ - as they say, and grab ahold of this, Mahelia’s finest...and marvel at how goddamn real she sounded, before the mainstream caught - and tamed - her fire...




John Henry Calvinist