Your Sunday brings three tunes from an album I found last month at the annual collectible vinyl sale at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store on Willy Street in Madison, Wisconsin, not far from my old neighborhood.
I hadn’t known about the sale before this year, and I hadn’t known about this record until I got there.
“Christmas Gospelodium” was released on the Verve label in 1967. It’s a compilation that was co-produced, arranged and conducted by Robert Banks. Last summer, Jason Stone, who writes the fine Get On Down With the Stepfather of Soul blog had this to say about Banks:
Gospel singer, pianist and choral leader Robert Banks is best known among soul fans, and Northern Soul fans particularly, for the rocking “A Mighty Good Way” on Verve. … Banks recorded an album for Verve, “The Message,” which featured Banks and other soloists doing gospel tunes with touches of soul and pop.”
That’s pretty much what “Christmas Gospelodium” brings to the Christmas table. Enjoy these three.
“Go Tell It On a Mountain,” Alice McClarity, Robert Pinkston and orchestra. Done slowly, in the traditional gospel style, with a big-voiced choir providing backup.
“The Christmas Song,” Lloyd Reese with the Golden Voices Ensemble. Once you get past the over-the-top moments by the choir — especially the intro — you’ll dig Reese’s soul vocals, which go from smooth to urgent. This is the only secular song on the album. (Another cut on the album features Reese with his Solid Rock Chorus, which was 65 singers strong.)
“Sweet Little Boy,” Alice McClarity, Robert Pinkston and orchestra. More blues than gospel, with some sweet piano, bass and harmonica behind it.
All from “Christmas Gospelodium,” 1967. It’s out of print. You might be able to find it on the Web somewhere.
I can’t tell you much more about this record or its artists. I’ve looked, but haven’t been able to find much.