eMusic Review 0
This time capsule from the tail-end of gospel's "golden age" showcases the phenomenal diversity and house-rocking power of the era with five of classic gospel's best-known artists (Pilgrim Travelers, Caravans, Brother Joe May, Soul Stirrers and the Original Gospel Harmonettes), plus the more obscure singers Ethel Davenport and Annette May. Unavailable in its entirety until this 1992 release, the July, 1955 concert at Los Angeles 'Shrine Auditorium was billed as "the First Annual Mid-Summer Festival of Gospel Music."
Native sons the Pilgrim Travelers got things started at a lovely, shuffling pace, which was soon upped by the Caravans with James Cleveland into a stomping intensity matched by classic shouter Brother Joe May. Sam Cooke had not yet left the Soul Stirrers, and the group's three songs here show Cooke at an incredibly emotional peak; the crooner shouted on "Be With Me Jesus" and "Nearer My God To Thee," the Stirrers extending those three-minute songs to the eight-minute mark with an astonishing, whirling dervish-like power, and the entire audience seemed to fall out in unison.
The set ended with an 18-minute medley by Dorothy Love Coates and her Harmonettes that's so spine-tinglingly great, especially during "Get Away Jordan," that it alone makes this… read more »