Black Grass – 1973 – Black Grass

Review by Soulmakossa

Rip, posting and additional info’s by Nikos

Here is the Rare Black Grass self Titled LP on a small US Label which to sum it up best is a super slice of Gospel Soul female Funk breaks with some blazing Hip Hop Samples and Chops for the producers. No need to say anymore just check out that sound clip.

Tracks
A1
Sweeping Through the City 2:45
A2
Come Across Your Bridge 2:55
A3
Early Morning Rain 3:43
A4
I’m So Grateful to You 2:22
A5
Great Day 2:14
B1
Lock Stock and Barrel 3:17
B2
Going Down to the River 2:55
B3
Give, Give, Give 2:16
B4
Burnin’ Love 3:19
B5
Morning Train 2:16

This is a magnificent heavy soul/gospel rock album by vocal group Black Grass, a relatively obscure gospel outfit similar to the Staple Singers and signed to Leon Russell‘s Shelter label.

Russell’s unmistakable boogie woogie piano style is all over this disc; it joyously opens the feelgood, uptempo gospel vamp “Sweeping Through the City” and retains much of its revivalist spirit on other traditional gospel tracks as “Great Day” and “Morning Train“. The vocals here are amazing. It really sounds like the Staple Singers, with the female lead singer belting and wailing uncannily like Mavis Staples while still holding her own. The male lead takes over on a few cuts and rips through ‘em with Southern Soul stompin’ zeal.

The mid-tempo “Come Across Your Bridge” is a fair strutter adding distorted organ riffs on the chorus, whereas “Early Morning Rain” catches Black Grass at its most melancholic. The female lead surges through this tender ballad, with Russell adding a shimmering, gentle organ melody. The country funk for which Russel was renowned reappears on the passionate, lazily groovin’ “I’m So Grateful to You“, which also stars Carl Radle’s fat poppin’ bass loops.

Lock Stock and Barrel” was the group’s most commercial effort; a delightfully arranged ballad (beautiful strings) riding a hesitating groove brilliantly demonstrating Leon Russell’s niche for melodic, haunting country soul hybrids. For more of this brand of contemplative, rustic soul searching, also check out the truly infectious “Give, Give, Give“.  Black Grass goes for the funk the hardest on the devastating jam “Going Down to the River“, with Leon plunkin’ away at the clavinet, while blues titan and guitarist extraordinaire Freddie King (at that time also signed to Shelter) gives away a frantic, piercing solo on the rollickin’ rockin’ soul gem “Burnin’ Love“.

Can’t recommend this LP enough. It’s Southern drenched soulful boogie-gospel-blues-rock at its finest.

Buy it

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Download link

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Comments

  1. Carl Howard says:

    oooh…. I must try this.

  2. John says:

    A rare gem. Thanx.

  3. grza says:

    Yes indeed, it seems loaded with excellent sample material.
    Thank you for this.

  4. Grumpy says:

    Very interesting … thanks!

  5. Ronin says:

    If you keep posting music like this I will never get any sleep!

  6. Dr.JFunk says:

    Thank you Nikos for sharing this gem, and Soulmakossa for the wonderfully fitting review. This is the first time I have heard this album in its entirety, and wow (!), am I ever grateful for the opportunity. I usually try to withhold reading any critiques until after listening to a record, and this instance was no different.

    I must confess – upon first hearing the jumpin’ opening track of “Sweeping Across the City”, I felt somewhat unprepared for such joyous spiritual optimism, like I had forgotten what the experience of praying was like. But that’s the thing about CHURCH (which comes in many names) – if you open yourself up even a little, healing is always a real possibility for the SPIRIT, and I was clearly in need.

    As I continued to listen, “Come Across Your Bridge” further encouraged a walking forward and away from all poisonous thinking that clouds the vision with false insecurity. Whereas a negative perspective would likely lend a simplistic and critical account of the lyrics, there’s an innocence and conviction in the lead singer’s treatment of the vocals, a steady and understanding pulse of the piano phrasing, consistent affirmations from the female trio singing to amplify the message, and an unusual futuristic ending that all push for genuine and positive transformation.

    With that “Early Morning Rain”, a reminder of the melancholy seeps through the ceiling in sobering drops of bittersweet reality. It’s going to take work along the way, and that can start with acknowledgement. The need for human companionship can both complicate and free us to find meaning in our existence. There are days when love rains a tender joy like no other, but with human frailty, hurt and pain can leave happiness a dark puddle of sorrowful remembrance.

    Over time and through great fortune (“I’m So Grateful To You”), a lasting goodness can emerge like no other to lift us up when we need a helping hand, a friend to see us through. If God/Soul is truly Love, then humanity’s connection to such love can be (re)discovered when we lift each other up/allow ourselves to be lifted to that “Great Day” of true fulfillment.

    From there on, it’s a matter of giving over completely (“Lock Stock and Barrel”) to the truth that saves us, the need to love genuinely (God, Life/Existence, a person(s) we cherish, a vision, a principle). REAL LOVE is waiting for us to embrace true acceptance by “Going Down To the River”, knowing that human experience calls for us to find ways to deal with feeling shortchanged and hurt through a routine cleansing of the spirit.

    From there, “in finding out about [our]selves [we] learn who [we] are” and at the end of such discovery is the continual beginning of simply being called to “Give, Give, Give”. The daily act of giving all we’ve got to one another, a higher power, a lasting vision – has created an intense fire that can’t be put out like before. It’s now TRUE passion smoldering all doubt and deception (see Blackalicious – “Deception” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyHoBl6wsjE“).

    Finally, just as we started the journey, we return to the joy-filled expression of hopefulness by hopping on that “Morning Train” that will lead us home to rest and experience the comfort of renewal. The piano fades, but only in the sense that it fades to a never-ending beginning.

    From start to finish, what started as an ‘I’ became an “Us” for me, inspired by a cohesive and beautiful story as told and performed by Black Grass.

    A glorious experience.

    • Raphy says:

      This is a reply to Dr.JFunk:
      What a splendid second review of this rarity.
      You have me at full attention from the beginning to the very end. A review like this shouldn’t be hiding in the comment section, but place prominently on the front page…

      Your writing skills would serve us quite well here.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts quite comprehensively.

      Raphy
      Big Up!@!

      Ps. Nikos, I was trying to write in the reply box below Dr.JFunk comment and I couldn’t.

  7. Adam says:

    I’ve never heard of this group before. Thanks for the post.

  8. Pietro says:

    Wow! Thanks for the posting this rare album.

  9. Raphy says:

    WHAT A FIND!
    You already know I do come alive when I see a rare gem such as this….

    Thanks Nikos (You lucky guy) and Soulmakossa for a splendid team effort…

    Raphy

    Big Up!@!

  10. Hines says:

    Respect! Great album!

  11. whoknows says:

    Thanks for this one! Looking forward to giving it a listen!

  12. Kirk says:

    Really exceptional. Thanx.

  13. Soul says:

    Cant wait to check it out. Thank u.

  14. Fiori says:

    Perfection! Peace and love…

  15. Paul says:

    Great music, a time when auto tuning didn’t exist!

  16. Jahcisco says:

    Thanks for sharing. Much appreciated.

  17. ali says:

    MEDIAFIRE!!!!!

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