The Hurricane That Hit Atlanta
Starting around the late '50s, Rev. Johnny L. Jones was a minister in Atlanta, broadcasting much of the material from his services on local radio. The Hurricane That Hit Atlanta is a double CD -- two and a half hours' worth, in fact -- of music from tapes in his archives, dotted with a few sermon excerpts and even some commercials from the radio shows. No dates are given for the 41 tracks, and perhaps no documentation exists to keep track of such things, though a note on the back cover states the minister went through 50 years of his tapes for the compilation. What you hear is on the raw and spontaneous side of African-American gospel, the fidelity also sometimes on the raw (though only occasionally outright lo-fi) side, as these are, in a way, field recordings. The vocals are both solo and ensemble, and are usually though not always backed by a small electric band. As is often the case in black gospel, the influence of R&B trends from soul and blues is sometimes heard, though it's not overwhelming. Perhaps owing to the wide span of source material, it's a diverse collection, though the homespun nature of both the recording technology and the performers means these aren't tapes that stand out among the best exponents of the genre. Once in a while there are cuts that come across as a little more appealing to the crossover audience -- like "Sometimes I Feel Like I'm Almost Gone," which almost sounds like a slice of a sweaty live '60s soul revue -- or unusual, like "A Charge to Keep I Have," which has uncommonly mournful call-and-response interchanges. Mostly this is for those who like their gospel unvarnished and straight from the heart.