FEATURED ARTIST / S
|A C Forehand and Blind Mamie|
Washington Phillips, vocal, dulceola.
A.C. Forehand, vocal, harmonica, guitar.
Blind Mamie Forehand, vocal, finger cymbals.
Luther Magby, vocal with unknown organ; unknown tambourine.
Informative booklet notes by Guido van Rijn.
In 1983 Lynn Abbott discovered a photograph and a drawing of Washington Phillips. The photo is the size of a postage stamp and was found in an issue of the Louisiana Weekly, dated a week before the release of Phillips' first 78. The photo shows Phillips holding two stringed instruments. It has become clear that Phillips experimented with various homemade instruments. However, none of the above informants saw him play in the recording studio. The Columbia executive who gave Paul Oliver the name "dulceola" did.
In December 1927 a mobile recording unit of Columbia Records, under the direction of Frank B. Walker, was set up in a makeshift studio in Dallas, Texas. The object was to record local artists who had been traced via advertising articles in the local press. Phillip’s first recorded track was Mother's Last Word To Her Son which produced a companion piece, A Mother's Last Word To Her Daughter, during his final session in 1929. The gently swinging sixteen bar song with its "aabb" rhyming-scheme is his own composition, while Take Your Burden To The Lord was composed by Charles Albert Tindley. Paul And Silas In Jail retells the Biblical story and balances "the place they call heaven" against "Sugarland", the notorious Texas state penitentiary. On Lift Him Up That's All, which retells the story of the woman at Jacob's well, the lead-in and the coda both differ from the melody of the song itself. Denomination Blues is Phillips' most impressive recording; in Part One six different black denominations are mockingly criticized, while Part Two ridicules their preachers. I Am Born To Preach The Gospel illustrates the argument that "educated preachers are walkin' around spiritually dead" by recalling the story of the "educated fool" Nicodemus. Train Your Child is a real oddity being a monologue about the education of children. The lesson is taken from Solomon's Proverbs and is followed by a particularly interesting solo on Phillips’s "novelty instrument". Jesus Is My Friend is the plaintive nineteenth century hymn What A Friend We Have In Jesus and is also preceded by a brief explanatory monologue. What Are They Doing In Heaven Today? is another Tindley composition and the aforementioned "A Mother's Last Word To Her Daughter" uses the chorus of "Bye And Bye, I'm Going To See The King". The words do not fit the melody very well and the omission of the chorus after the last two verses further adds to the surprises of the arrangement. I've Got The Key To The Kingdom is the story of Daniel in the lions' den, the accompaniment consisting of one chord sometimes enriched by a sixth or ninth note. You Can't Stop A Tattler - Part 1 remained unissued for fifty years. The song has a humming chorus but the "novelty instrument" sounds less clear. While the first part of "You Can't Stop A Tattler" condemns gossipers, the second part attacks adultery. I Had A Good Father And Mother is remarkable because of its falsetto and its humming. The Church Needs Good Deacons paraphrases Paul's letter to Timothy to give an example of a “good deacon” should aspire to be. Especially noticeable in his last four recordings is the fact that the vocal and instrumental parts start simultaneously, proving that Phillips was very familiar with the pitch of his instrument. Although nominally favouring the sixteen bar scheme, Phillips often shortens his bars, which also indicates that he is accompanying himself.
Left-handed guitarist Elder Asa ("A.C." or "Asey") Forehand was born in Columbus, Georgia, on 9 August 1890 (according to his second wife) or 1893 (according to the Social Security Death Index). He lost his sight in 1904 and his first wife, Mammie, who is said to have been born on 8 June 1895, was also blind.
On 25 February 1927 they recorded Mother's Prayer and I'm So Glad Today, Today for Victor. A.C played guitar and harmonica, while his wife, "Blind Mamie Forehand", accompanied him on triangle, (although the discography mentions "finger cymbals”). Three days later Mamie made two recordings under her own name: Honey In The Rock, written by the white gospel composer F.A Graves, and Wouldn't Mind Dying If Dying Was All. Her triangle was there again and A.C. accompanied her on guitar.
Luther Martin Magby recorded two songs for Columbia in Atlanta, Georgia: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit and Jesus Is Getting Us Ready for the Great Day. Magby's odd pronunciation, his pumping harmonium and the propulsive tambourine result in one of the most compelling gospel records ever waxed.