The Clefs Of Calvary : You Don’t Know What I’ve Been Through,
Standing Where Jesus Is, & Miracle Temple
taken from the album “God’s Light” on Prestige (1963)
The Mighty Imperials : You Shall Be Free,
God’s Love Is Like A Burning Fire, & Today
taken from the album A Look At The Mighty Imperials Of Dayton, Ohio on Creed (1973)
First off, happy Tofurkey day for all you Americans out there. Yesterday was spent, just as it should be, between cooking, catching up with family, feasting with friends (chez mois), passing out on the floor, and then getting a second wind to DJ till nearly dawn. I felt so good, so thankful, all day- I guess the Gospel just felt appropriate.
The Clefs record is such a stunner. It’s a perfect document of that transition period right before church music went pop and became soul. Since there’s no personnel listing on the LP jacket, I had initially thought I stumbled upon an early Sam Cooke record. However, a few google searches soon revealed that this unnamed lead crooner was one James Phelps— who clearly spent a good deal of time in the same circle as the posterboy of soul. Relaxing on the floor, belly full of delicious home-cooked food, surrounded by my best friends who were all similarly sedated, these harmonies carried me through a blissful dreamy stupor that’s just now beginning to wear off — that’s why I’m keeping these songs on repeat!
10 years later, The Mighty Imperials of Dayton, Ohio (not the same as the Daptone group) prove that the soulful gospel sound was still thriving (and staying pretty true to it’s roots). Can’t find any info on the web about these guys, but I love that instead of your typical liner notes, the group simply re-printed an entire page from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. Here’s one line from that:
There is no music like that music, no drama like the drama of the saints rejoicing, the sinners moaning, the tambourines racing and all those voices coming together and crying holy unto the Lord.
Anyone who’s felt the raw power of a live gospel group knows the truth in that right there. Regardless of creed– Athiest, Jew, Muslim and Hindu alike can enjoy sounds as moving as these.