Behold, Mike McGonigal’s curated a second set of obscure, raw, raving, and maybe even revenant gospel sides. This one lacks the assurance of the first one, Fire in my Bones (proceeds from it benefit the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund), but you’ll want it anyway. Anybody with an interest in African-American culture could and should have this, and so should anyone with any interest in being mystified and/or just plain scared out of his/ her wits. Few box sets cover quite that much aesthetic space.
Yes, you’ll find drum machines and electronic keyboards here and there. Witness Deacon James Williams’ “God is Taking Care” from 1980, where (presumably) the Deacon chants and the machine chatters. “The only copies I have found,” McGonigal writes, “are in pretty bad shape”—frustrating to the curator and the listener—but it comes over much less crackly than other sides herein, and as McGonigal admits, “at least a few people liked it enough to play the record until it’s hardly listenable.”
Some folks don’t know how to stop—Prophet G. Lusk’s “The Devil’s Trying to Steal My Joy” cuts out at exactly the moment you’re convinced that he has too much joy for even the devil to steal. Some folks, we don’t know how they started—Elder Curtis Watson’s “Be There in the Happening (Part 2)” starts mid-sermon since Part 1 is presumably too trashed to even contemplate.
And some folks simply make the soul crawl like spiders on skin. The Rev. R. Henderson’s “Stop Living on Me” puts the guitar out in front and leaves the vocal an unintelligible, sinister vapor—“Exile On Main Street” prophesied, perhaps, except this 45 lacks any identifying information and may have always been with us. The title song appears a few times; at Brother Will Hairston’s Detroit service it begins simply. Then a scream. Then more screams. No formal rhythm. No earthly rhyme. There, gone, there, gone again before you apprehend. I don’t believe in the Holy Ghost, and I believe it sounds thusly.