Rev. Pearly Brown

You're Gonna Need That Pure Religion

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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson

In many ways, Rev. Pearly Brown was the perfect itinerant preacher, playing on the street in Macon, GA. Unlike many buskers, however, he wasn't a blues or pop player; his music was strictly sacred, and this album, a reissue of his 1961 album plus a 1974 session from a California radio station, gives a clear picture of his music. Essentially it had two sides: there was the slide guitar, heir of Blind Willie Johnson, in songs like "God Don't Never Change" (or Johnson's own "Nobody's Fault but Mine"), and there was also the country side, typified by his raw, ragged version of Roy Acuff's "The Great Speckled Bird." The 15 tracks that make up his album veer between the two styles, which co-exist perfectly well in his capable hands, but on the live cuts he's helped out by his wife and two musicians from the Dirty Butter Band (although he still talks about what street corner he might play on), who are basically dispensable; Brown has played alone long enough to fill out the sound by himself. He was, perhaps, the last real exponent of this sacred style that owed much to blues and "slave songs," as he called them (and maybe some were). He was also an accomplished guitar player with some powerful slide work. His kind of music, now a thing of history, is sorely missed.

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