Sunday, October 16, 2011

If I Had a Little More Time

Peacock LP # PLP-134 (1967)
Sometime in late 1966, the Mighty Clouds Of Joy played the Music Hall in Houston. The concert was taped and released on Peacock LP # PLP-134 in February or early March 1967.
     By many seen as the most successful gospel quartet in history, the Mighty Clouds were riding high in the mid- to late 60s (and beyond that as well). They had their stage suits made by the same tailor who made clothes for The Temptations; from early on, they had adopted electric guitars and developed an elaborate stage choreography. Horace Boyer called their distinctive style »hard gospel«, i.e. »singing loudly and rhythmically at the extremes of their vocal range« (The Golden Age of Gospel p. 239). Or in other words: »The Clouds reached the top by being the hardest-driving, best-dressed, house-wrecking- est group in the business« (Alan Young: Woke Me Up This Morning, Jackson 1997, p. 60).

None better testimony for their »hard gospel« than their live album of 1967. It's a real house-wrecker indeed! A Billboard critic said in the March 11, 1967, issue that it was a »rousing album that will bring sales in r&b markets«. Yet it isn't in any way close to r&b, except in instrumentation. The performance of the Clouds is much too intense for that, as you can hear below. It is 100% spiritual, if that includes songs like »I'm Glad About It« (aka »It's Another Day's Journey«) which are really about everyday life: if you got money to give it to a pauper eating out of a trash can, be glad about it; if you got eyes to lead the blind, be glad about it and thank the Lord for your eyesight. The lead voice in the live version is that of Willie Joe Ligon, founding member of the Clouds. The song is kind of a sermonette, often employed by Ligon, somewhere between singing and preaching. Or, in the useful definition put forward by Alan Young, »a morality tale, usually told by the lead singer while the rest of the singers hum or sing softly in the background« (Woke Me Up This Morning, p. 63). In 1966, this tune was also released on Peacock single # 3099.

Peacock LP # PLP-134, back cover
However, before that we'll have another tune from that live album, »Stand By Me«. Last Sunday I posted Mavis Staples's version of that song which she recorded back in 1961. The live version of the Clouds (lead vocals Ermant Franklin, another founding member) is in as good as every respect the very opposite of Mavis's interpretation: while hers is calmly intense, soulful almost, deep like her spine-shivering contralto, Ermant's version is rough, desperate almost, out-crying and ... well, house wrecking in the best sense. Take a seat. If I had a little more time ... happy Sunday all!

Mighty Clouds Of Joy: »Stand By Me« / »I'm Glad About It« from the Peacock LP # 134 (1967):

Further reading about the Mighty Clouds Of Joy:
  • Robert Darden: People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music, New York 2004, pp. 283-87.
  • Alan Young: Woke Me Up This Morning. Black Singers and the Gospel Life, Jackson 1997, pp. 60-64.


  1. I accidentally stumbled across your blog and wanted to let you know that I find it very interesting!! Wonderful music and lots of information. I look forward to reading your older posts.

  2. Thank you! I much appreciate it.