50 Miles of Elbow Room
You Got to Move: Live Recordings, Vol. 2 Artist:
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Rev. Charlie Jackson
Lord You're So Good: Live Recordings, Vol. 2
50 Miles of Elbow Room
LP
$20

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Lord You’re So Good is the second volume in an ongoing retrospective of Rev. Charlie Jackson (1932-2006), one of the all-time great gospel guitarists. This collection continues to draw from Rev. Jackson’s extensive archive of private recordings that were usually made live-in-the-church on a portable cassette recorder as he traveled throughout Louisiana and Mississippi from ~1970-2000. 

Whenever there was an opportunity to join in and praise the Lord, Rev. Jackson was eager to be involved. In addition to performing his own songs, he served as a guitar accompanist to a wide range of solo singers, quartets, and bands. He would also sometimes provide a musical background to sermons and testimonies, accenting and punctuating them at key moments. Even when not performing, he could often be found close to the action, shouting encouragement.

The church services at which these collaborations often took place offered structured yet impromptu circumstances where Rev. Jackson needed to be prepared to spontaneously follow and respond to vocalists, congregations, and even members of his own groups. When introducing a singer, Rev. Jackson would sometimes note that he didn’t know what song was forthcoming, and occasionally mention afterward that the selection was a complete surprise, one that they hadn’t done before. At the same time, since he was a frequent visitor to many churches in Louisiana and Mississippi, Rev. Jackson also developed a rapport with some singers who had favorite songs that they would revisit at many different services. 

Regardless of the situation, Rev. Jackson was an enthusiastic, inspiring, supportive collaborator, who gave the same degree of commitment when an accompanist as he did when he was a leader or soloist.  Heartfelt praise of God, rather than personal glory, was the goal. And, as his widow Laura Jackson has said, they also had good Holy Ghost times.

Lord You're So Good includes several collaborations with these outstanding and as-yet-unidentified singers, as well as what appears to be a previously unreleased solo studio recording, taken from a tattered, once-unplayable 8-track tape.

- First pressing of 550 copies on high quality RTI-pressed vinyl
- Beautiful old school "tip-on" Stoughton sleeves
- Insert includes unpublished photos + notes by Kevin Nutt of CaseQuarter Records / WFMU
- Audio restoration by Ian Nagoski of Canary Records
- Vol. 2 in a series of at least 3
- 50 Miles of Elbow Room is the sole distributor of this LP; retailers please get in touch to deal direct
- CD & digital versions will follow eventually

Praise for “Lord You're So Good: Live Recordings, Vol. 2”:

"The recordings are surprisingly clean for having come from old cassettes and the music is as pure as it gets. Jackson's guitar is an extension of his body - a part of his preaching. He beats the guitar like a drum to drive the song, builds the intensity with his voice and strumming, and then goes for the kill with a vicious, naked guitar tone matched by searing vocals. Like the best gospel evangelists, Jackson is a master at building a performance slowly while making the audience putty in his hands. ... A must for any fan of deep, raw, guitar driven gospel. Rev. Charlie Jackson is as good as it gets." - Brett J. Bonner, Living Blues

"If you like guitar-based Gospel, this is it!  Staple Singers, Rev. Louis Overstreet, shoot, even Jerry McCain's home recordings come to mind.  WILD and WOOLY!...Comes with a color booklet with commentary and notes on songs, great pictures...aaah man, you need it!" - Goner Records

"Wonderous live gospel performances from around Baton Rouge, LA, with heavily distorted electric guitar.  As more & more of Jackson's stuff makes it out into the world, more & more of it turns out to be harrowing, hypnotic, cathartic volcanoes of sound." - Weirdo Records

"Then there's the gospel standard 'Stand By Me,' found on a tattered eight-track, with Jackson in duet with his talking guitar while punching out a raucous vocal that would even have James Brown cowering." - Steve Barker, The Wire

"This second volume of Rev. Charlie Jackson's live-in-the-raw church service recordings brings forth more fiery examples of his infamous electric guitar-driven gospel sermons, filled with smoking, percussive six-string pyrotechnics, passionate vocal performances, and loads of call-and-response work with the crowds and congregations. All of this was recorded live, direct to tape, aside from a lone studio recording thought to be lost, but salvaged and anthologized here. If you enjoyed the magic brought forth on Volume 1, which sat high atop our 2011 Best Of chart, you'll find much to love here, as these cuts equal and possibly even top the ecstatic wonder brought forth on that collection. This is some of the most wild, intense gospel and blues you're likely to hear before shuffling off this mortal coil." - Other Music, from their Best of 2012 list. 

"The Recordings of Rev. Charlie Jackson," Alex V. Cook, Country Roads Magazine, August 2013

"Both volumes are essential listening for the serious deep roots gospel collector or aficionado of raw, glass-shattering electric guitar performance." - Bob Marovich, Journal of Gospel Music

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Rev. Charlie Jackson
You Got to Move: Live Recordings, Vol. 1
50 Miles of Elbow Room
LP
out-of-print; CD & digital to come

CLICK HERE FOR SOUNDCLIPS if the player is out of service

Rev. Charlie Jackson (1932-2006) was a distinctly powerful guitar evangelist who devoted his life to singing and preaching the gospel, particularly throughout Louisiana and Mississippi. His 45s for the Booker and Jackson labels, with songs such as "God's Got It" and "Wrapped Up Tangled Up in Jesus," are frequently cited as a pinnacle of raw, impassioned, bluesy gospel music.

Beginning sometime around the early 1970s, he often documented the church services at which he participated with a portable cassette recorder. Over the years, he accumulated an extensive archive of recordings that were mostly made by himself, Frances Jackson, or Laura Davis Jackson, with a local professional occasionally hired to record a noteworthy service. These tapes would primarily serve as mementos, as well as tools through which he could evaluate his performances. Selections might have been included on the cassettes that Rev. Jackson sometimes sold, but it seems these were most often keepsakes for casual posterity. 

As one might expect from such informal recordings, idiosyncrasies abound. The recorder gets jostled, members of the congregation boisterously testify, and the microphone sometimes becomes overloaded. A few of the older cassettes needed to be repaired before they would even play.

Sonic quirks notwithstanding, these tapes contain a wealth of outstanding performances. They also provide a valuable opportunity to take a broad survey of Rev. Jackson’s music over roughly a 30-year period and obtain a much more detailed and vivid picture of the vibrant gospel community in which he traveled, something that was only hinted at by his commercial recordings. Listening to these performances, one can hear why Rev. Jackson was so in-demand: no matter the situation or the size of the congregation, he sounds fully engaged, with a sense of sacred duty.

This album is the first in a series of releases that will be drawn from this material. Future volumes will include examples of Rev. Jackson as an accompanist, often in seemingly spontaneous collaborations. Any information regarding singers and musicians who performed with Rev. Jackson is eagerly welcomed by 50 Miles of Elbow Room.

- First pressing of 550 copies on high quality RTI-pressed vinyl
- Beautiful old school "tip-on" Stoughton sleeves
- 8-page 9"x9" insert with extensive biographical notes
- Vol. 1 in a series of at least 3
- 50 Miles of Elbow Room is the sole distributor of this LP; retailers please get in touch to deal direct
- CD & digital versions will follow eventually

Praise for “You Got to Move: Live Recordings, Vol. 1”:

“Suddenly, the room shakes with echoes from another era: a church somewhere in southern Louisiana, a passionate voice testifying over a chugging, relentless guitar chord, the congregation clapping, stomping, and shouting as the guitarist digs deeper and sings louder.  The primitive recording is trebly and sharp to the ears, but the vigor of the performance is what you really hear.” – Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal. Full article: "Sounds of the South, via Brooklyn," Wall Street Journal, Aug. 1, 2011

“Lordy, Lordy, Lordy...the first spin of this album didn't just bring me to my knees, it flat laid me out on the floor! ... captures famed guitar evangelist Rev. Charlie Jackson at his rawest, most fervored and visceral best. ... this is without a doubt one of the greatest archival releases of the year.” – Michael Klausman, Other Music. Also selected by Other Music as one of the top 25 reissues of 2011. 

“While the Rev. Charlie Jackson (1932-2006) is rightly considered, along with Elder Utah Smith, one of the primary guitar-evangelist figures in American gospel music, wading into the waters of his work is an all-encompassing proposition. The Louisiana-based Jackson was known for ‘being able to play his guitar like a drum,’ turning down the treble and ramping up the bass in a chunky, rhythmic fashion approaching raga-like hypnosis. … Room acoustics and tape hiss give the already-raw Jackson an extra air of immediacy on the opening suite, “What a Time/Morning Train,” recorded in 1974. Shuffling rhythm, syrupy tremolo and dusty slide are wrapped in tape phasing and Jackson’s vocals maintain a gravelly distance as part of a sonic bellows. The Reverend grew up in Mississippi and played the blues as a teenager, so an electrified delta isn’t far from his sacred music – that said, there’s a tumbling whorl that envelops “Morning Train,” something quite far from stark and deliberate secularity. Low, motoring taps and harp-like whine unfurl from the congregation’s ritual movement, making this performance of the gospel standard a rendition for the ages. … Absolutely wonderful music.” – Clifford Allen, Tiny Mix Tapesfull review

“Live gospel performances from around Baton Rouge LA with heavily distorted electric guitar. Jackson preached anywhere they'd have him from the mid-'60s until his death in 2006. He had a smattering of 45s released in the mid-'70s, mostly funded through church socials & picnics. They were collected on a CD in 2003 ('God's Got It'), and instead of a repeat, this set features cassettes that Jackson made himself during services on a handheld tape recorder. Faster tracks aren't too far from Bo Diddley's shuffle, but are sometimes even more raw. Slower blues numbers can break down from overflowing emotions, and one song is sung in a tight, high, & positively harrowing whisper that reminds most of Nick Drake's otherwordly 'Black Eyed Dog.'” – Angela Sawyer, Weirdo Records

"Music Historian Delves into History of the late Rev. Charlie Jackson," New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 10, 2012

Chosen as one of the “10 Best Overlooked Albums of 2011” by James Reed of the Boston Globe