The best ten bucks I've spent on a new release in some time has to be the two disc set Joy In My Soul: The Complete SAR Recordings (Abkco). Produced by Teri Landi and with notes by Bill Dahl, it's just remarkable music.
Cooke's stamp on the group in the wake of his leaving them looms large — more than one singer echoes some of his trademark "yodel," and as these recordings were made for his own label and Cooke owned the publishing, he modified a few of his pop songs for his former group to sing.
The Stirrers were a great band before and after Cooke was a member. The singers here are Paul Foster, J J Farley, Le Roy Crume, Johnnie Taylor, S.R. Crain, Jimmie Outler, Richard Gibbs and James Phelps. This is some of Golden Age gospel's greatest music. It's worth ten dollars for the four unreleased songs, alone.
This set includes two albums recorded for SAR, produced by Cooke: Jesus Be A Fence Around Me, which I own a scratchy copy of, and Encore!, which I've never even seen a copy of. You also get 3 songs from a nifty SAR compilation record, and some singles tracks, too. This thing was just expertly compiled. One of the songs on here, "Time Brings About a Change," was featured in the film Selma.
Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...