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Golden Gate Quartet Radio Transcriptions (1941-1944)

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Album Review

The Document label's five-volume history of the Golden Gate Quartet has been supplemented with a collection of wartime radio transcriptions (1941-1944) which match up neatly with the fourth volume in the series. Most of the 32 tracks are considerably shorter than the standard, three-minute, 78 rpm phonograph record, and some last less than two minutes. The opener, a 40-second "G.E. FM Radio Commercial" sets the tone for this intriguing little stash of acetate recordings made for radio station broadcast purposes rather than commercial vending in music stores. In addition to this material's rarity, the collection may serve as a handy compendium of chestnuts from the mid-century African-American gospel repertory. Note also the inclusion of a full-length cover of the King Cole Trio's "Straighten Up and Fly Right," a jazzy tidbit among the traditional folk and gospel standards which were favored by this excellent vocal harmony group. Tacked onto the end of the track list is "Dese Bones Gonna Rise Again," a residual Bluebird recording from February 1939.


Formed: 1931 in Berkeley, VA

Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Pioneer Virginia gospel/pop quartet of the '30s and '40s. Calling their innovative approach to sacred hymns "jubilee" singing, the Golden Gate Quartet, propelled by Willie Johnson and William Langford, enjoyed massive acceptance far outside the church. Their smooth Mills Brothers-influenced harmonies made the Gates naturals for pop crossover success, and they began recording for Victor in 1937. National radio broadcasts and an appearance on John Hammond's 1938 "Spirituals to Swing" concert at Carnegie...
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