Joseph Spence

Living on the Hallelujah Side

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Bahamian guitarist/vocalist Joseph Spence's humming, flailing, sensational singing and playing combined secular flair and spiritual fervor in a manner close to that of the brilliant Blind Willie Johnson and Rev. Gary Davis. This set of 1970s performances, reissued on CD, included evocative renditions of "A Closer Walk with Thee," "More and More with Jesus," and "When the Saints Go Marching In," plus equally arresting versions of "Irene Goodnight" and the holiday ditty "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town." Spence was incapable of self-indulgence or fakery; his lines, phrasing, riffs, and solos are enchanting, while his vocal effects and accompaniment often come close to surpassing his playing. This was simply magical material, the kind that comes only from a genuine original.

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