Sunday, March 03, 2013

Too Beautiful for Radio

Vee-Jay LP # 5046 (1963)
Today we're in for a treat, courtesy of the Patterson Singers! They featured on this blog repeatedly, albeit so far only in the guise of their third outfit (with Mildred Lane's lead vocals ... I love her voice so much, check it here!). Back in 1960, when Robert Patterson had formed the second outfit, they first appeared again as the »Patterson Singers of Brooklyn, N.Y.« (they had used this billing as early as 1954) and recorded some sides for King/Federal. In the first week of February 1962, they were signed to Vee-Jay Records; their first Vee-Jay session is recorded as of Feb. 5, '62. During the following three years, they recorded five LPs with Vee-Jay, ending in 1965 when Vee-Jay faltered.

The Patterson Singers (feat. Ruth Williams, lead vc?): »Heavenly Father« from the Vee-Jay LP # VJLP 5046 (1963):

* * *
»Heavenly Father« is a most beautiful song and has not escaped the attention of others; it was awarded prominent attention by Bob Marovich on The Black Gospel Blog when he included it in his series »Essential Gospel - Classic Recordings«. It was released on the Patterson Singers's third Vee-Jay LP, Songs of Faith (out in late 1963). I would not stress so much, as Bob does, the indebtedness of the song to the girl group sound of the time (... charming, a cross between the religious gravity of the Caravans and the watery-eyed innocence of the Chantels (“Maybe”) or the Quintones (“Down the Aisle of Love”). The recording is clearly influenced by the girl group sound that by 1963 was emanating from transistor radios ... all across America, he writes). Yet when he goes on to wonder why the song was not chosen for a single release, he brings up various interesting points: Why Vee Jay chose not to release “Heavenly Father” as a single may have had to do with it not sounding like the kind of gospel music then dominating the charts or record sales. Or it may have remained an album selection ... because it wouldn’t have been featured much, if ever, during the ensemble’s programs, not being the type of performance that would wreck a church or auditorium. Then again, perhaps it was, to paraphrase a comment once made by the late, great Alan Freed, simply too beautiful for radio.

(click to enlarge)
And Bob was right in another thing: the song isn't at all typical for what the Patterson Singers were recording at the time. In fact, their third Vee-Jay LP features 12 songs, 10 of which are uptempo. Side 1 has its fair share of tunes which even at the time were direly conventional (»Down By The River Side«, »When The Saints«, »He's Got The Whole World«) but with broad appeal to the mass public; they are arguably the least remarkable tracks on the entire LP. However, these tunes had proven their commercial value by easily crossing over from the church to secular venues, and that Vee-Jay was following this trend eagerly is shown by the fact that they released »Down By The Riverside« and »When The Saints« as the only single from this LP (Vee-Jay # 929). And it paid off, because Billboard reviewed the record ... under the heading POP Spotlight !! (issue of August 3, 1963, p. 18) Still, even the uptempo songs as performed by the Patterson Singers are often unconventionally arranged and thus stand out from many other recordings of their times. Outstanding in this sense are in particular two songs from their third Vee-Jay LP, viz. »I Am So Glad« and »He's Real«. Especially the percussion in »I Am So Glad« is quite amazing ... listen here:

The Patterson Singers: »I Am So Glad« / »He's Real« from the Vee-Jay LP # VJLP 5046 (1963):

* * *
P.S. I just like to add that the Vee-Jay LP Songs of Faith was, as often with Vee-Jay, poorly produced and obviously rushed out in a hurry. Both back cover and labels show a song list for Side 1 which does not correspond to the sequence of songs on the actual disc. In fact, songs nos. 3-6 as indicated on the label are actually nos. 1-4, and the first two songs come last on the disc. So, »Heavenly Father« is no. 5 if you play the record.
Happy Sunday all!

No comments:

Post a Comment