Friday, March 20, 2020

SG Whiz: Sister Rosetta Tharpe 105

We're back to supply more superlative sounds for the stir-crazy apocalypsos out there with the birthday of one of the truly formative figures of the music of our lifetimes.
Probably the first artist to begin to tart up the sounds of Gospel with the flavor of R&B, she began a revolution that birthed the lion's share of what came after.
Even if she'd never opened her mouth to sing a note, just her guitar innovations alone would place her in the uppermost firmament of the architects of it all.
If you ask me, if she hadn't gone Down By the Riverside, Chuck Berry could never have boogied on his finger and wiped it on the wall.
I wonder if she approved of the way her guitar tone and energy was adapted and applied to Rock-n-Roll.
What it must have looked like back in the 1930s, this tremendous woman and her overdriven guitar, anticipating sounds and forms that would take another 20 years to take shape into what they became.
Who started the pattern of using distortion as a desirable effect, and not a mistake to be dialed down? I'll give you a hint: it wasn't Eric Clapton.
Did I mention that this Bible-toting, superreligious instigator of modern guitar sounds was also.... gay?
She's often called the Godmother of Rock-n-Roll, and I can't think of anyone more deserving of that title than Sister Rosetta Tharpe, born in Arkansas this day in 1915.
Was she the first player to really feature the Gibson SG? I'm trying to think of someone who used it before her, but I'm coming up blanker than the faces of the legislators that just got caught insider trading to profit from this virus.
She's an SG OG fasho, and as you might imagine there aren't a whole lotta archival instances of her weaving her brand of sanctified, gutbucket magic.
There is one really good one though, and lucky for us it got rebroadcast a few years back in one of those pristine digistreams.
Why, you even get German Jazz deity Horst Jankowski and his group as the backing band!
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Liederhalle
Stuttgart, Germany
2.13.1958

01 Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho 
02 This Train
03 That's All
04 Didn't It Rain?
05 Go Ahead 
06 Sit Down
07 Down By the Riverside
08 Peace In the Valley
09 When the Saints Go Marching In
10 Don't Take Everybody to Be Your Friend

Total time: 30:50

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - guitar & vocals
with The Horst Jankowski Combo:
Horst Jankowski - piano 
Günther Leimstoll - guitar
Peter Witte - bass
Hermann Mutschler - drums
plus
Klaus Wunderlich - Hammond organ
Jonny Teupen - harp 

digital capture of a 2018 SWR2 320/48 digital rebroadcast
track transitions smoothed and volume optimized throughout by EN, March 2020
159 MB FLAC here
The whole SRT vibe is here in this scorching half-hour of glory, from the Gospel standards she helped popularize in modern music to the ridiculous, proto-shredding guitar interludes.
I will be back soon with more grist for your self-isolating mills, but Sister Rosetta Tharpe is 105 today and, based on what we see around us these days, she'd probably say that you'd better get to praising.--J.
3.20.1915 - 10.9.1973