Various Artists – Dualtone, Close Harmony: A History Of Southern Gospel Music

Mike McGonigal

By Mike McGonigal

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Close Harmony: A History Of Southern Gospel Music

Various Artists - Dualtone
Essential Southern gospel, swinging and soulful

The companion disc to James Goff Jr.'s excellent 2002 study Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel is essential for anyone interested in quartet singing in general and Southern (predominantly Anglo-American) gospel in particular. The influence of the Southern gospel quartet acts on country, pop and contemporary Christian music is deep, yet it's one of the most rarely studied realms of 20th century music, even in gospel studies. As this disc shows, many of these groups were brilliant performers, from the dulcet, mournful sound of the All American Quartet to the rollicking Speer Family, the almost-funky Rangers Quartet and the stellar, Carter Family-ish Chuck Wagon Gang — household names throughout the South in the '20s and '30s, yet almost forgotten today. The sound from the 78 transfers is a bit weak — one wishes that the Southern Gospel Music Association went with the same crew who did the Goodbye Babylon set — but the collection is rife with splendid rarities nonetheless.