4 By The Swan Silvertones – Weekend Soundbooth Special
. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Amen,Amen,Amen – The Swan Silvertones – Archives Alive/Rock Beat Records – 2015
Without question, one of the greatest Gospel groups from those halcyon years of the 1950s and 60s were The Swan Silvertones. At a time when Black Culture was coming to the forefront of American society, by way of Rock n’ Roll, Rhythm & Blues and The Civil Rights Movement, Gospel had also been discovered by White Mainstream America. Since the Church was a pivotal gathering place during the Civil Rights struggle of the early 1950s, the music which was so integral to the Black Church at the time, was also its most profound.
That’s not to say Gospel Music got started in the 1950s – it had been around for quite a while; decades in fact. The Swan Silvertones had been around since the 1940s. But with the explosion of interest in what was formerly known as “race music”, Gospel became just as important a discovery and was probably more influential in the growth and development of what became Rock n’ Roll than anything else, except perhaps the electric guitar.
And The Swan Silvertones were at the top of that wave of vibrant, exciting revolution. Fronted by the Reverend Claude Jeter, whose falsetto became the model for many groups to follow and provided the backbone for what was to become Doo-Wop, The Swans energized a whole genre of music – it was no longer just for Sunday – it was for life in general.
So when my friend and colleague Michael Ochs put together a 26 track compilation for his Archives Alive label, it was cause for a lot of celebration. 26 tracks of music that moves and fairly explodes with energy and passion.
Of all the compilations of Gospel I have heard over the years, this is the one that nails the spirit of the time and of the music itself. As the legendary Al Kooper says in the liner notes, the were The Beatles of Gospel – and that is no hyperbole.
Here is a sample of what’s on that album, which is slated to come out later in June, but is available now via Amazon.com on a pre-order:
1. He Won’t Deny Me
2. Amazing Grace
3. Trouble In My Way
4. What’s The Matter Now
I randomly grabbed tracks, because there isn’t one track that doesn’t stand out – they are all incredible and all are priceless examples of a group which was so instrumental in changing the face of music in America. This is the collection to have if you’re a fan or if you’re new. While you’re at it – check out their Facebook page and hit “like”.
If you aren’t familiar with Gospel Music from this period of time, it’s imperative you check this one out. Everything you hear from then on will make complete sense. Seriously, music was never the same after them.