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Songs of protest: People Get Ready!

from the Atlantic and Warner Jazz Vaults

CD compiled by Florence Halfon and with excellent liner notes by Kevin Le Gendre

Warner Music 2005

For most of us white aetheistic lefties it may be hard to stomach that:

“The church has been more than a wellspring from which African-American music has poured forth over time. In 1963’s Blues People, a seminal treatise on the music that emerged from the Negro experience in America, Leroi Jones observes: “The early black Christian churches or the pre-church ‘praise houses’ became essential focal points of Negro social life. The relative autonomy of the developing Negro Christian religious gathering made it one of the only areas in the slave’s life where he was relatively free of the white man’s domination.”

In October of the same year, black citizens in Selma, Alabama held mass meetings to consolidate their efforts in the struggle for civil rights. True to Jones’s observations, these gatherings took place in churches. At one meeting they were led in song by a high school girl by the name of Betty Fikes. The local sheriff, Jim Clark, headed up a posse that awaited the congregation outside the church.

Betty Fikes later featured as a backing singer on the Ry Cooder  produced album  ‘We’ll Never Turn Back’  2007

What emerges from Le Gendre’s concise and excellent notes is the importance of Eugene McDaniels who was dropped by Atlantic Records for being too political after the release of his 1971 agitdisco classic album ‘Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse’ . According to Le Gendre this was down to a phone call from Spiro Agnew Nixon’s vice president!

Track listing
1. Silent Majority – McDaniels, Eugene

2. People Get Ready – Freedom Sounds

3. Ghetto Scene – Brown, Oscar Jr.

4. Backlash – Hubbard, Freddie

5. Blacknuss – Kirk, Rahsaan Roland

6. Live Humble – Lateef, Yusef

7. Gang Bang – Brown, Oscar Jr.

8. Lord Abide With Me – Cameron, Jimmie & Vella

9. Martin St Martin – Callier, Terry

10. Sound Of Silence – McRae, Carmen

11. Jagger The Dagger – McDaniels, Eugene

12. Carry On Brother – Harris, Eddie & Les McCann

13. People Got To Be Free – Williams, Marion

14. Members Don’t Git Weary – Roach, Max

15. Compared To What – McCann, Les & Eddie Harris

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