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Elder Curry & Elder Beck

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Elder Curry was a singing preacher and an underrated guitar player whose fervent, righteous sermons/songs featured staccato guitar lines, the full tilt barrelhouse piano of Elder Beck, and the stomping feet, clapped hands, and raised voices of his entire congregation, all of which make his records sound like a cross between a Saturday night speakeasy and a Sunday morning prayer meeting. He recorded 12 tracks (three of these were never issued) with his congregation and Elder Beck for Okeh Records at the King Edward Hotel in Jackson, MS, on December 16 and 18, 1930, including the marvelous "Memphis Flu," which holds some claim to being the first rock & roll record ever made. A song about the 1918/1919 influenza outbreak that killed some 700,000 Americans, "Memphis Flu" features a driving, relentless 4/4 beat that is as startlingly modern as the Old Testament fire-and-brimstone-styled lyrics are chillingly cold, placing the blame for the epidemic on all those sinners who provoked the wrath of God. Never has a song about the flu been so cold-hearted and yet sounded so joyous and (forgive the pun) infectious. ~ Steve Leggett

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