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Angola Prison Spirituals - Various Artists

CAT. #: 9036


Price: $10.00

 

CD 9036




The power of African American prison spirituals is without equal. If it were not for the work of a few intrepid ethnomusicologists these songs would have vanished from the collective memory of American music. Fortunately Dr. Harry Oster travelled through Louisiana in the early 1960's and recorded this music before it vanished from the tradition. Most of these tracks were released in the 1960's on LP. Now, for the first time, they are available on CD with 9 tracks that have never been commercially available. The legendary singer and guitarist Robert Pete Williams is heard on several of these raw and emotive cuts.


1. I'm On My Way - Andy Mosely - vocal; Robert Pete Williams - guitar
2.
Church On Fire With The Word Of God - Robert Pete Williams - vocal & guitar
3.
What Shall I Do - Robert "Guitar" Welch - vocal & guitar
4.
Brother Norah - Angola Quartet: Willy Rafus - lead vocal, with Edward James, Ollie Brown, & Burnel Jones
5.
Little School Song - Tom Dutson - vocal; Robert Pete Williams - guitar
6.
Dyin' Soul - Robert Pete Williams - vocal & guitar
7.
Let My People Go - Roosevelt Charles - vocal
8.
So Much Is Happenin' In The News - Robert Pete Williams - vocal & guitar
9.
Dig My Grave With A Silver Spade - Tom Dutson - vocal; Robert Pete Williams - guitar
10.
Brother Mosely Crossed The Water - Andy Mosely - vocal & washboard; "Hogman" Maxey - guitar
11.
I'm Stranded On The Banks Of Ole Jordan - Angola Quartet # 2: Willy Joe - lead, with Roosevelt Charles, Edward James, & Willie McGee
12.
I'm Goin' Back With Him When He Comes - Robert Pete Williams - vocal & guitar
13.
The Old Ship Of Zion - Rev. Benjamin E. Osborne with congregation
14.
When I Lay My Burden Down - Robert Pete Williams - vocal & guitar
15.
See How They Done My Lord - Angola Quartet (six) from Camp A
16.
Be With Me Jesus - Angola Quartet (six) from Camp A
17.
Rise And Fly - Angola Vocal Group - unidentified lead singers
18.
I Know I Got Religion - Andy Mosely - vocal & washboard; "Hogman" Maxey - guitar
19.
Jesus - Andy Mosely - vocal & washboard; "Hogman" Maxey - guitar
20.
I Take Jesus (Do Lord, Remember Me) - Angola Choir (Murray Ted Macon - director)
21.
Each Day (Life's Evening Sun) - Angola Choir (Murray Ted Macon - director)
22.
Steal Away To Jesus - Angola Choir (Murray Ted Macon - director)



REVIEWS

“[Robert Pete Williams’] impassioned free-form vocals, backed by his heavily rhythmic guitar, are among the greatest folk-blues recordings. But no less interesting are obscure performers like Robert Welch, whose “What Shall I Do” is a supremely beautiful example of a Deep South guitar spiritual…Though it lingers on in some Black Belt backwaters, this kind of music has virtually disappeared.”

-Ben Windham, The Tuscaloosa News

 "Originally released on LP on the Folk-Lyric label, Angola Prison Spirituals was recorded in the late '50s by the renowned folklorist and song collector Dr. Harry Oster. The first 13 cuts come from that glorious album, and for the CD reissue, Chris Strachwitz has added nine more tracks -- two from their excellent Robert Pete Williams volumes and seven more that have never been issued in any form before, all of which were recorded by Oster. Prisoners in the Angola Penitentiary recorded virtually everything here. Williams is most notable for his career after prison, but his songs here are far different from his other blues music: the disregard he has for traditional song form and its meter and rhyme lends an eerie, very present quality to the spirits evoked in his texts. Elsewhere, the chants by the Angola Vocal Group give rise to the notion that the songs considered to be traditional African-American spirituals are also constructs put on the culture by whites. Tom Dutson and Williams perform together on "Brother Norah," with its deep, ancient roots in otherworldly harmonies, and "Dyin' Soul" is spookier and more mournful than anything that most would recognize as arising from the spiritual canon. But it is on "Rise and Fly" by the Angola Vocal Group that listeners can hear the timelessness of the blues and the primitive, pre-Thomas Dorsey gospel music that sounds as if it came from field hollers more than the church pew. There isn't any music anywhere more powerful than this. There isn't any music closer to tearing the veil that separates the worlds of spirit and flesh; there isn't any music that echoes the beat of the human heart, the fear and hope in its soul, or the passion in the grain of its voice like this music does. There isn't any music like this anywhere."

-Thom Jurek, Allmusic.com