Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Clarence Fountain & The Five Blind Boys - Look Where He Brought Me From (from Wajji LP 1305)

Look Where He Brought Me From

Part Three

In 1979, The Blind Boys were joined by the great Roscoe Robinson. As far as I can tell, that was right before the return of our man Clarence Fountain in 1980.

They apparently recorded for a number of labels (like Trip and H.O.B.) during this period, and it's difficult to accurately date those 45s. I have yet to turn up any recordings that the Blind Boys made without Clarence (during the ten years he was on Jewel), but they may be out there. The only discography I can find for them is the spotty one on their current website, which doesn't cover single releases at all.

The Blind Boys joined with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff in 1982 to record a great 'disco Gospel' album called I'm A Soldier In The Army Of The Lord. It's recently been released on CD, check it out. The very cool photograph above is taken from the liner notes. I'm lovin' Clarence's 'natural'!

In 1983, Lee Breuer, a founding member (along with Philip Glass) of the Mabou Mines Theater Company, approached the Blind Boys about appearing in his new work, The Gospel At Colonus. The play was an adatation of Sophocles' Theban Greek tragedy Oedipus Coloneus, that tells of the torment and redemption of that pathetic figure in a modern day Pentecostalist setting. It would win an Obie Award in 1984, and Breuer would 'take the show on the road' the following year.

Playing to sold out houses throughout Europe, The Blind Boys were taking American Gospel to places it had never been before, becoming internationally known in the process. Upon their triumphant return to the States in 1987, they were featured in an Emmy award winning PBS television presentation of the play, which then moved to Broadway for a Tony nominated run in 1988.

They were on a roll.

Once Oedipus had run its course, Clarence and The Boys signed with Wajji Records in Washington DC, and produced some of the best music of their career. Here they would begin their long association with Sam Butler Jr., and the Holy Ghost was in the house! That's Butler playing the incredible bass and guitar on today's selection, taken from the Wajji album Changed Man. Great God Almighty!

I was at a Red Hot Louisiana Band show at the Stephen Talkhouse out here on eastern Long Island, and I won tickets to an upcoming show by answering some trivia question (...actually, "What was Robert Duvall's first film role?") correctly. As it turned out, the tickets were to see The Five Blind Boys Of Alabama, fresh from recording this album. To say that the show 'blew me away' would be an understatement. I had no idea what I was in for, and it literally changed my life. To this day I have never seen a more powerful performance than Clarence, The Boys, and their band put on that night.

I sat and spoke with Clarence after the show (he sold me the record you're listening to now), and he was just so real, man. I've been a major fan ever since...

(to be continued)


Blogger Red Kelly said...

Hey folks, regular visitor Cies just emailed me with some pertinent info:

"Interesting questions like the one you made in your last Holy Ghost entry about the recordings of the Alabama Blind Boys while Clarence Fountain was at Jewel, have turned me into some kind of amateur gospel detective... Here is what I've found so far:

Five Blind Boys of AL - Five Blind Boys of AL - HOB LP 2136 (1970-1971)
Five Blind Boys of AL - Working for the Lord - HOB LP 2155 (1973)
Five Blind Boys of AL - Lord Search my heart - HOB LP 2169 (1973 - 1974)
Five Blind Boys of AL - Reach out and touch somebody's hand - HOB LP 2174 (1974 -1975)

HOB 1305 (1968-1969) - Home in that rock/Too sweet to be saved
Just one 45 in the early half of the seventies, but 4 albums in the same period. In the years prior to 1968-69 they had around 10 45s on HOB, but that was with Clarence Fountain and 3-4 albums.

Jewel 258 (1977) - Morning train / I'll always be in love with God
Is this with or without Clarence Fountain?
Looking at the cover of their Jewel album Swing Low Sweet Chariot (Jewel LP 0127) from 1977, Clarence Fountain can clearly be seen as the grand old man sitting at the front...

I'm getting the impresssion that Clarence Fountain re-joined the Blind Boys from Alabama in 1977. The last Fountain solo 45 (Jewel 233) is from 1974. His last solo album "Golden Moments in Gospel" (Jewel LP 0143) is from 1978. His other six Jewel albums are all earlier. His 1975 album "Blessed Assurance" includes his last solo 45 (Jewel 233: Blessed Assurance /Ain't no way).

What does this all mean?
That there is a gap in the Blind Boys of Alabama (back with Clarence Fountain) recording career between 1977 and 1983 when they entered theatre as members of the cast of 'Gospel at Colonus'..."

There ya go! Thanks so much, Cies, for the research. Please be sure to check out Cies' new website Just Moving On where he will focus on Gospel Music from the 1970s.

6:14 PM  
Blogger moorspede said...

Really enjoyed this post.

3:27 AM  

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