Monday, January 20, 2014

Swept up by the unhinged but holy sounds of Brother Claude Ely

Nothing I had read prepared me for the first time I heard BROTHER CLAUDE ELY.
Reviews of the PENTACOSTAL HOLINESS GOSPEL SINGER'S recordings had described his style as "raw."
More like "feverishly feral." His songs are unhinged.
Infused by THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD and backed by his own acoustic guitar and another's occasional mandolin, Ely produces gospel music as reconstructed by a 1960s garage-rock punk band. His versions of "I'm Crying Holy Unto the Lord," "You've Got to Move," "There's a Leak in this Old Building" and other songs sometimes seem on the verge of falling apart, but Ely always powers his way toward the end.
I listened to "SATAN GET BACK," a collection of his King Records output of the 1950s-60s yesterday in the car.
The collection includes portions of Ely's revivalist sermons between songs, and it's easy to get swept up in his fervor.
I can imagine the power these recordings had on Bible Belt residents of the mid-20th century. In retrospect, I can also imagine the resonance these powerful songs had on the earliest rock-n-rollers.


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