Thursday, April 26, 2012

Once Upon a Time I Lost a Record: The Swan Silvertones

The Swan Silvertones
(Claude Jeter second fm left back row)

A couple recent posts have led directly to tonight’s.  I was contacted by someone from  Minnesota who put a comment into the Bob Marley post. We struck up a short conversation about our favourite record stores in the Twin Cities which produced some very sweet and dear memories from a time in my life that seems too far gone.

The post on Record Store Day also got me digging through my vinyl collection. It wasn’t  long before I stumbled upon a real treasure that I found recently at my favourite second hand record shop down the road.  The Swan Silvertones’ Get Right with the Swan Silvertones (1986) was my introduction to this freakishly good gospel group and the falsetto of Claude Jeter. I first picked it up at a record shop in east Minneapolis called The Electric Fetus in the late 1980s.  It endeared itself to my ears and heart with great rapidity. I left it behind in Minneapolis when my life took me overseas but not before putting the Swans on to a C-90 cassette which I carried with me for the better part of 2 decades.

But about 10 years ago in an ill-fated fit of cleanliness I tossed all multiple hundreds of my cassettes out, not realising that there would come a day when you could turn those babies into MP3 files and enjoy the sounds forever.  I have searched for this album for years but have not been able to locate it until the other day.  It was a steal at $12 and let me tell you I am so happy all over again.

So to my new friend from St Paul and to the Electric Fetus, which is still in business all these years on, if the above photo is to be believed, I post this utterly essential gospel album for your edification.

From the liner notes comes the following:

Get Right contains some of the best of the many recordings that the Swan Silvertones made for Vee Jay records from 1956-1964 when they were at the pinnacle of their fame and singing ability. While they had recorded previously for both King and Speciality Records, it was the period of their Vee Jay recordings that brought the Swan Silvertones their greatest popularity.

Lead singer, Claude Jeter, has rightly been called “the master falsetto of the ages” and has been cited by numerous singers, like Al Green and Don Covay as a major influence. Jeter has only lacked the degree of fame of other great gospel leads of the 50s like Sam Cooke, Johnny Taylor and Lou Rawls because, at the time they were going into pop music, he was entering the ministry. This album presents the Swans in a variety of styles from the almost entirely a cappella version of The Lord’s Prayer, to the live, churchy feel of Near the Cross, to the raucous rock n roll sound of What’s the Matter Now?

            Track Listing    
01 Mary Don't You Weep
02 Get Right With God
03 Feed Me Jesus
04 Amazing Grace
05 Take the Lord With You
06 Near the Cross
07 The Lord's Prayer
08 What's the Matter Now
09 Saviour Pass Me Not
10 Is God Satisfied with Me
11 Peace in the Valley
12 Seek, Seek
13 Jesus Remembers
14 Bye and Bye


Anonymous said...

My friend--

Now, this is just too funny....first of all, I was for a while a habitue of the Electric Fetus; it was probably my last real record store hangout before mp3s and the like. But your Silvertones post is wonderful because a friend of mine had made me some Silvertones CDs a few years ago which my wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed over the years. Were it not for him I would never have heard this amazing group. They were the soundtrack to my first child's infancy, and "How Great Thou Art" brings back those great days. I even made a CD of Swan Silvertones songs for my wife's grandmother when she fell ill a couple of years ago. What an amazing coincidence that you've put this album up. Like I tell my wife: the internet does have SOME things to redeem it, and people like you and places like your blog are what I mean when I say that. Your friend, Tedd in St. Paul.

ajnabi said...

what a story! Hilarious..should be sent into the Reader!

Dog Fence Perth said...

Awesome stuff, thank you and keep coming with these, will be back again.

Anonymous said...

Would be able to upload this album again? I have lost my copy and would LOVE to hear it again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for loading this up again. It sounds WONDERFUL!