Biddleville Quintette

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2

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The immediacy that made the Biddleville Quintette come across so well on the first volume of their complete works as reissued by Document is even more in evidence on the second volume, which is filled out with bonus tracks by the Birmingham Jubilee Singers and the Silver Leaf Quartette of Norfolk; the primary recordings by both of those groups have also been reissued by Document. Named for the Biddleville section of northern Charlotte, NC, the Quintette preserved for posterity the organic intensity of early 20th century African American congregational singing. The first six selections on volume two were recorded for QRS in New York in April 1929, and include "The Lord Giveth (And the Lord Taketh Away)," the rousing "Pharoah's Army Got Drowned" (its melody recognizable as the labor and civil rights anthem "We Shall Not Be Moved"), and the gospel song "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say," which had been wryly parodied in September 1928 by bluesman Blind Bogus Ben Covington on his Paramount recording "I Heard the Voice of a Pork Chop." Originally released on Paramount, tracks 7-16 come from the Quintette's final recording session which took place on August 1, 1929. In many ways, these are the best records the group ever made. Choice cuts are "Handwriting on the Wall," "Goin' to Heaven Anyway," "I'm Going Up to Live with God," "Judas and Jesus Walked Together" (which is enlivened by rhythmic handclapping), and the authentically inspired "Dip in the Beautiful Stream." Particularly on their last recordings, the Biddlevilles come across as considerably more freewheeling than many of their contemporaries.

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