This wonderful book w/ cd was in my mail today. It’s a book about Arizona Dranes, a woman believed to be the first person to record gospel piano. She was also blind. It contains a CD with all of her known recordings.
Sadly, it didn’t come with a download code so I was forced to find a non-Chris King produced copy, and I’m really curious about his mix. I’d imagine there’s only so much that can be done with it, but he’s done a terrific job with what he’s got to work with on other recordings. Dranes’ sound is a raw, rollicking, barrelhouse piano propelling Drane’s tough, high plaint cutting through her strident, raw boogie, and setting the stage for those who came after, notably her fellow Church of God in Christ congregant Sister Rosetta Tharpe (who begat Chuck Berry, who begat etc etc) who Dranes must have mentored, as well as Thomas A. Dorsey, and later on Clara Ward, Jerry Lee Lewis, and any other washed in the blood gospel musician.
Only recording 16 sides between 1926-1928, Arizona Drane (sic) had been all but forgotten to history, but this recording, which has actually been out since 2012, revived her enough for another pass. Thanks to Tompkins Square Records, she lives again. #YesLord!
If you like serious old-timey gospel, and weird old American music in general you need to give Tompkins Square your money. Any of the gospel recordings are real shouters, and their award winning collection of disaster songs and murder ballads People Take Warning! is essential, as is Arizona Dranes’ He Is My Story : The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes. Get hit in your soul.