‘I can’t see this CD being taken off the shelf and dusted down very often’ by Blues & Rhythm

‘Volume 10’ closed with Mahalia ensconced in a studio in HollYwood, California in February 1960, and in the company of Percy Faith and His Orchestra. This set opens on the following day, and picks up where the previous release ended. As such, readers may choose to pass over it without any qualms whatsoever – though complenists will of course have to have it. Mahalia’s voice sounds immensely strong and commited on a programme of hymns – not spirituals or gospel – but do you really need her singing ‘My Countryt, ‘Tis Of Thee’ (UK readers may recognise the tune as ‘God Save The Queen’) ? Percy Faith obviously loved pomp, as each track is swamped by strings and brass, and the opening notes of ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’remind me of the ‘Star Wars’ theme. The resulting album, with Mahalia and Faith enjoying equal billing, was a best seller for Columbia in the USA – on which I cannot comment. That takes us up to ‘Abide With Me’. The remaining tracks do at least include Mahalia’s regular pianist Mildred Falls, and her sometime accompanist Louise Weaver, on organ, plus orchestra and choir conducted by Jonnhy Williams, who did indeed write the theme to ‘Star Wars’ ! He is far more in sympathy with Mahalia than Faith was though, and went on to work with  her in subsequent years. His arrangements are certainly not gospel, but perhaps not that far off from the kind of arrangements the pioneering soul songers had to conted with in the early ‘ 60s. ‘My God And I’ is worth a mention as it is a discographical oddity, but overall, I can’t see this CD being taken off the shelf and dusted down very often. Norman DARWEN – BLUES & RHYTHM