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Various Artists

D-Vine Spirituals Records Story, Vol. 2

D-Vine Spirituals Records Story, Vol. 2

UPC: 854255000205

Format: LP

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The second volume in Bible & Tire Recording Company's D-Vine Spirituals Records Story compiles another 14 hard-to-find nuggets from the golden era of Memphis Black gospel music and rounds out the portrait. D-Vine was the result of a cooperative relationship between Pastor, gospel disc jockey, and engineer Rev. Juan D. Shipp, and Tempo Recording Studio owner Clyde Leoppard, a former Sun Records session drummer and leader of the western swing outfit Clyde Leoppard & the Snearly Ranch Boys. (Interracial business partnerships were rare.) They distinguished the label by fomenting an original sound using high production values, excellent physical materials (virgin black vinyl), and fair business practices. They sold records to artists upfront at a discount and they hawked them at gigs, putting more money in their pockets faster than royalty checks would. Shipp used his position as a DJ to not only play his label's records, but to get them into the hands of other gospel DJs.
The D-Vine Spirituals Records Story, Vol. 2 opens with "It's a Shame How This World Has Changed," quite possibly the only recording ever made by Arkansas' the Gospel Wymics. Its funky psychedelic soul guitar intro sets up a cut-time shuffle with call-and-response vocals; its lyrics reflect on societal tensions and the spiritual trials they cause. Just over two-minutes long, it is one of the most forward-thinking, inspirational tracks D-Vine released. The combination of rhythms and rocking Bo Diddley-esque guitar of North Carolina's M&N Singers' "Stand by Me" (not Ben E. King's tune) delivers a furious tempo and colliding instrumentation in one of the most intense entries in '70s Southern gospel. The Shaw Singers transform the arrangement and words in Charlie Patton's "My Time Ain't Long" into a sumptuous yet gritty gospel shouter. The Gospel Six of Tunica, Mississippi obviously spent time listening to the proto-funk of Curtis Mayfield, the Rance Allen Group, and the grooving spiritual soul of the Staple Singers. Their "Jesus, He's a Miracle Worker" is the wooliest, funkiest single on either of these volumes. Elder Jack Ward (who later recorded for Stax and released the killer Already Made in 2021) gives us "A Change Is Gonna Come," a choogling, bubbling, blues-drenched gospel-funk tune -- it's not Sam Cooke's anthem. The Pure Heart Singers' take on the standard "I Am a Pilgrim" is so resonant, it could be psychedelic-era Temptations singing gospel. Its minor-key groove consists of a single vamp and three chords driving the interplay of voices in reinventing the original folk hymn as a fusion of deep soul, Delta blues, and lean urban funk. The phase-shifted guitars on the Southern Bells' "I've Got to Tell It" weave a spell with the ebb and flow of Pre-War African and '60s gospel and soul-blues to close the set with a declaration of truth. This second volume, though a tad more contemporary in stylistic and sonic innovation, is no less revelatory than its predecessor. Both are absolutely essential for anyone interested in gospel music. ~ Thom Jurek