In 1997, Document reissued the 1928 recordings of the Jubilee Gospel Team together with five sides cut in 1931 by the Deep River Plantation Singers. Nobody knows who comprised the Jubilee Gospel Team, which consisted of a lead singer and preacher with group backup vocals either a cappella (as on "Lower My Dying Head") or accompanied by various combinations of guitar, organ, piano-accordion, washboard, and foot stomping. There is a gritty and free-style quality to these devotional exercises, and the fact that the guitarist hardly ever changes keys actually enhances some of the proceedings. Most of the Jubilee Gospel Team's music is straightforward and heartwarming, the kind of old-style gospel records you can move to. The most unusual piece is "Dry Bones in the Valley," a bizarre diatribe which is described in the liner notes by historian Chris Smith as an apparently Bible-based stream-of-consciousness monologue describing with garishly morbid and somewhat misogynistic humor the grisly remains of an unfaithful wife murdered by her 12 lovers. The prayer delivered as "Oh Lord, Remember Me" is especially passionate, and was voiced by the Rev. B.J. Hill. The Deep River Plantation Singers, listed in the Gennett company's files as Jackson's Plantation Singers, made six recordings in January 1931. Only five are presented here because Document was unable to locate a copy of "Roll, Jordan Roll." This was a much more polished ensemble, and Smith observes: "The singers' delivery is clear and precise, almost refined at times; it's not often that one hears the southern British pronunciation of "enchahnted" from an African American performer!" Their most soulful offering was "I Feel Like My Time Ain't Long." Here then is another excellent sampling of historic gospel rescued from oblivion by Document some 70 years after the music was etched into the grooves of 78 rpm phonograph records.
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