Loading...

View larger image

Paramount Singers - Work And Pray On

CAT. #: 382


Price: $15.00

CD 382

Archie Reynolds - bass & leader; Joseph Dean - tenor; Rev. Odis Brown - tenor; Clyde Price - tenor; J. B. Williams - baritone; and William Johnson - tenor.

"Work and Pray On is one of the finest recordings of a cappella African-American gospel quartet music to have been made since the genre slid into decline in the mid-'50s." - from the liner notes by Lee Hildebrand

1. We've Come This Far By Faith
2. Jesus Is All This World To Me
3. There's A Leak In This Old Building
4. He Looked Beyond My Faults (Amazing Grace)
5. Jesus Gave Me Water
6. Oh, Rocks
7. Child Of The King
8. He'll Work It Out (Problems)
9. Great Day
10. Mother
11. It's Gonna Rain
12. Deep River
13. Work And Pray On
14. If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again
15. Ezekiel (Dry Bones)
16. Out Of The Depths Of My Soul
17. Heaven In My View
18. My Lord What A Morning
19. Peace In The Valley
20. Family Prayer

REVIEWS

“For some listeners, traditional gospel singing is a novelty ingested only occasionally in small, intense doseson CD reissues from the golden age of the 1940s and early '50s (like the recent marvelous `Legends of Gospel Series, on Fantasy's Specialty label) in the gospel tent at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival; at a concert by the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. The real deal especially when it comes to the a capella quartet tradition of the Soul Stirrers, the Fairfield Four, and othersis indeed a rare commodity. But, as Lee Hildebrand explains in his liner notes to this superb new recording, it's making something of a comeback these days, and, on these 20 tracks by the Bay Area's own Paramount Singers, the unaccompanied harmonizing style soars to heights where the air is thin and the spirit all consuming. Founded in Austin and established in the Bay Area in the 1940s, the Paramounts are led by veteran member Archie Reynolds and range in age from 39 to 78. They blend their six voices into tight harmonies and contrasting leads, always letting the pure joy of vocalizing: reign supreme. Even if you are not inclined to abide song after song about Jesus, heaven, and prayer, you'll find that the musical message in these heartfelt performances plunges beneath the words into the roots, the essence of soul.”

(Derk Richardson — Bay Guardian)

“The Paramount Singers have a long and illustrious history; founded in Austin, Texas, in 1936, they first recorded for the Library of Congress in 1941, the lineup then included Hayward Medlock, who joined R.H. Harris in the Soul Stirrers. Postwar, the group reformed in the Bay Area, where they have remalned ever since; alumni include Paul Foster, (who also became a Soul Stirrer) and the great Vance `Tiny' Powell, still best known as the blues singer who cut the original `My Time After Awhile,' but also the Bay Area's greatest gospel lead, and briefly in the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi with Archie Brownlee. The Paramounts recorded for Duke, Coral, and the local Olliet and Trilon labels. There are three titles with Powell leading on `San Francisco Bay Gospel' (Heritage HT 314) - but they never achieved the fame of other quartets despite being as good as any of them, mainly because they all had day jobs, and didn't want to tour nationally.

The current six man lineup features one 39 year old with the rest ranging from 64 to 78. Joseph Dean has been a member since 1948 (once turning down an offer from the Spirit of Memphis) and Archie Reynolds since 1946; it was the death of their guitarist and bass singer in 1979 that prompted a return to unaccompanied styles with Reynolds moving from second tenor to bass. The results are splendid. If the Paramount Singers don't come down on a song as hard as in the old days, that's not surprising, but they still generate considerable energy and deep emotion. William Johnson, the baby of the group, has a beautiful flexible voice, best heard on a lovely treatment of the modern classic `He Looked Beyond My Faults,' first made popular by Andrae Crouch.

Everyone except baritone J.B. Williams takes a turn at leading, and if Archie Reynolds is rather stiff on the Jubilee numbers `It's Gonna Rain' and `Ezekiel,' there's no gainsaying the impact of Rev. Odis Brown's `hard' gospel leads, Joseph Dean's cooler, more Iyrical sound (particularly gorgeous on `Mother'), or the thrilling impact of their switch leading on the title track and `There's A Leak in This Old Building.' Only `Deep River' doesn't come off, for it inevitably arouses memories of Paul Robeson's incompacable version. Otherwise though, this is great stuff.”

(Chris Smith — Blues & Rhythm)