19.34 In Stock
Another of Yazoo Records' wonderful themed compilations, How Can I Keep From Singing is a collection of sacred music from the 1920s and 1930s. It provides an indispensable series of portraits that sheds light on how people from the period celebrated their religion in song. Beyond historical significance, every performance here is an enjoyable listening experience, and there are many highlights. Jay Bird Coleman delivers a fantastic harmonica duet with Ollis Martin on "I'm Gonna Cross the River of Jordan." Their performance is raw and seems to lie outside of the confines of the church, much closer to the earth. The music seems to jump out of the recording. "He's Got Better Things for You" by the Memphis Sanctified Singers is equally exciting and is sung so beautifully that it could win the church new converts. "He's got the holy ghost and the fire," the singer advertises. This is religious music, but she isn't above making the song a showcase for her unique style as she growls her way through the chorus. On "Woke Up This Morning," Roosevelt Graves & Brother create a joyful syncopation with two voices, guitar, and some basic percussion. Typically, Yazoo gives no thought to musical or racial segregation. Thus, the heavily stylized voice of Rev. H.B. Jackson is backed by the authentic gospel sounds of Rev. E.D. Campbell & Congregation. Uncle Dave Macon (a white, vaudeville-influenced performer), who delivers a humorous, spoken introduction on "Walking in Sunlight," is followed by the unique tradition of sacred harp singing on a performance by the Middle Georgia Singing Convention. Slim Ducket & Pig Norwood's wonderful, subdued reading of "I Want to Go Where Jesus Is," which seems to bear the mark of a blues (secular) performer, is up against Rev. J.O. Hanes. The group's "The Great Transaction's Done," with its inclusion of a sermon, attempts to recreate the environment of a church meeting on record. By making faith the only requirement, Yazoo has brought together a range of performers, styles, and voices to gather and congregate, resulting in a blend that's all too rare.