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Monday, November 28, 2011

This May Be My Last Time Singing, and Gospel Films Tonight

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 12:44 PM

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Venerable archival label Tompkins Square Records has released the second compilation of rare gospel records from local writer/ publisher/ DJ/ archivist/ historian Mike McGonigal, titled This May Be My Last Time Singing: Raw African American Gospel on 45 RPM (1957-1982). Like the first volume, 2009's Fire in My Bones: Raw + Rare + Otherwordly African American Gospel—also released on Tompkins Square—it's three discs of uncommon, raucous, and sometimes outright strange recordings, from obscure performers and even more obscure labels. And as with This May Be My Last Time Singing's predecessor, "gospel" is a deceptive term when describing the music therein. For sure, Jesus is on everyone's mind, but there's plenty blues and funk and soul and other in these tracks. Here's a taste.

Also unlike its predecessor, this particular compilation feels more personal than scholastic. As McGonigal himself says in the liner notes, "It’s not a clinical sampler; these are the songs I’m most obsessed with, that if you dropped by my house I’d say 'you have to hear this.'" As such, it's a more motley and interesting listen, if also a trifle more inconsistent. These recordings feel particularly homespun, rawer and hoarier than the sometimes breathtaking tracks contain on Fire in My Bones. If there's nothing as joyously stirring, and if the recording quality is even spottier, there's plenty of shadow and mystery and musical left turns to keep things moving along.

What's most impressive to me is the fervor and depth with which McGonigal put the record together. This is someone who knows his shit, but even more importantly, gives a shit. His love of this music is impossible not to absorb after listening to even a few tracks, and the fact that he's sharing so much of it—putting all six discs of both compilations into my shuffle rotation reveals even more unexpected delights, not to mention how perfectly it complements the rest of the 20th-century rock and rhythm & blues that was already in there—makes This May Be My Last Time Singing seem like a near-bottomless bag of goodies.

FURTHERMORE: Mike McGonigal is hosting a program of rare, weird, raw gospel films entitled Shout Troubles Over tonight at the Hollywood Theatre. They are kind to warn us that "quality of some of the sources is funky at best," but there's little doubt there'll be plenty of hair-raising stuff, most of which you'd never see otherwise.

Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy, tonight, 7:30 pm, $7

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