Here we are on Friday already. I know that FMF has been a bit off lately, and I do apologize. I’ve still been a bit preoccupied with some personal stuff, but I want to still keep putting this music out there. I have quite a bit of Lp’s and 45’s that may or may not have been reviewed, but I am gonna do my best to make sure all of these records eventually get out through this blog. I also know that most of the stuff I review is always Funk, Soul, Jazz or Reggae. There is theme in many of the artists I talk to and research to review. Many of them started out in the church. Now I am not a religious man, and not one to judge people who are. I can not deny though, that many of these great artists were signing hymns and spirituals before they either turned to secular music, or became an actual part of the church. Many drifted away for a while, but eventually came back. Here’s something a bit different, some Gospel music. We travel to the Midwest and check out Jean Austin and Choir with “Straight ‘Em” on Song Bird Records from 1972.
The brain child of Texas super record label owner Don Robey, Song Bird Records was responsible for 45’s and Lp’s from such Gospel artists as the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Swan Silvertones, Dixie Hummingbirds, and the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi among others. Robey, who also controlled Duke, Peacock, and Backbeat records, was responsible for a good deal of R&B, Funk and Soul out of Houston from the early 60’s on. Song Bird would release records until 1973, when ABC/ Dunhill took over distribution until it’s eventual demise in 1978. Allegedly a shady character, it can not be denied he released some great music in the aformentioned genres, as well a Gospel.
Jane Austin was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but made the trek to Cleveland Ohio. She was a member of the Dorothy Norwood Singers and made the Southern Gospel circuit with Brother Joe Mays before putting out this record. In 1967 she put out “The Failure Is Not In God” b/w “Don’t Have To Worry” before this full length in 1972 with the Choir. I am by no means a Gospel expert. I don’t proclaim to be, however, a full length record called The Soul of Jean Austin caught my eye in one of Psych Dave’s piles, and I couldn’t pass it up. I find Gospel music interesting, although I am not really a church goer. On the whole, this Lp is a mix of Spiritual classics “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore”, “I Saw the Light”, and a handful of other songs you may or may not hear on a Sunday morning. “Straight ‘Em” is an upbeat side with a killer bassline, drums, and this piano riff that while reminds you of the Reverend Cleotus James (for you Blues Brothers fans), could easily fit in in some secular tunes. The backing choir is tight, and they should be, a choir has no slouches. Jean and company are calling out the slackers and are gonna straighten them out back to church. It’s that easy. I figured I’d throw a wrench on the end of the week post, because you always have to have an open mind, and great music sneaks up on you in the least likley places. This time it happens to be in a place I don’t visit much, but have respect for all the same, the church. Enjoy your weekend and Keep Diggin’!