We gave you a little taste of Sleepy LaBeef, national treasure, covering Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “This Train” a couple of weeks ago. That was pretty well received, so here’s some more.
Gospel met boogie woogie when Tharpe recorded today’s tune in 1944. It was such a hit that it became the first gospel song to break the Top 10 on Billboard’s race records chart.
(Race records, sold mostly to blacks from the ’20s to the ’40s, eventually came to be known as R&B records. Nor, apparently, was “race records” a slur. The black press of the time proudly referred to African Americans as “the Race.”)
Today’s tune was known as “Strange Things Happening Every Day” when Tharpe laid it down.
By the time Sleepy got around to covering it 50 years later, it was known simply as “Strange Things Happening.” It was such a good cut, with Dave Keyes on piano and Scott Billington on harmonica, that it became the title track to Sleepy’s 1994 album on Rounder Records.
“Strange Things Happening,” Sleepy LaBeef, from “Strange Things Happening,” 1994.
Plus a little bonus: Early last year, Oliver Wang wrote about Sister Rosetta Tharpe over at Soul Sides and shared the following tune, which again demonstrates how gospel meets swing.
“Can’t No Grave Hold My Body Down,” Sister Rosetta Tharpe, from “The Original Soul Sister,” a 2002 import compilation.