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WHEN I REACH THAT HEAVENLY SHORE - UNEARTHLY BLACK GOSPEL 1926-1936 (3CD)

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Tompkins Square (TSQ5081)

Seventh Day Adventist Choir, McCollum’s Sanctified Singers, Roosevelt Graves, Blind Gussie Nesbitt, Washington Phillips, Jubilee Gospel Team, Edward W Clayborn, Rev A. W. Nix, Elder Oscar Saunders & Congregation, Eddie Head & His Family, Henry Thomas, Blind Joe & Emma Taggart, Laurel (Mississippi) Fireman’s Quartette and more…

Fans of vintage gospel surely can’t complain of any lack of recent effort on the part of record labels and archivists in the service of their preferred music. There have been notable and admirable successes over the last few years in discovering and presenting a marvellous array of choice (often very rare) gospel recordings; with perhaps no label succeeding quite as well and as frequently as Tompkins Square.

And, just to re-affirm their credentials in the field, here they come again with a fabulous new set of 42 intense, brooding and committed performances. These range from spoken-word sermons, guitar-slinging street evangelists, syncopated church choirs and much more and feature relatively well-known names and the barely-recorded alike.

As well as Tomkins Square, we also have renowned music archivist Chris King to thank for once again opening up his personal archive of 78 RPM records to assist in the creation of this set. Of the 42 tracks included, an impressive 34 have never before been issued on CD. Given their previous track record in re-mastering 78s it should not come as any surprise that the sound quality on show is exemplary throughout. But somehow, once again, here I am marvelling at the high quality of sound Tompkins Square squeeze out of, what must now be, relatively ancient and presumably less than pristine source material.

And, as well as the music, the booklet offers even more evidence of the team’s commitment to the cause. Listed alongside each track are biblical quotations and passages from the scriptures that must have taken a huge amount of pain-staking research to establish and present.

Truth be told, I have only recently managed to get my greedy mitts on this new release and have only had a limited time to consider and investigate the contents and inclusions. I have however already seen and heard enough to know that this set will be in my favourites box in my CD collection for a very long time to come.

Review Date: January 2015

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