Week 20: Heavenly
Welcome to week 20, and a rather special one I hope it will be. To all the mothers of the 4BB faithful, living or passed on, I salute you. Without them, none of us would be able to gather together each week and spread the love.
This week’s post was inspired by Soulbrotha and our good friend Cosmo, who put the funky Gospel bug in my ears and prompted me to put this little gem in my crates. It’s not that I’m overly religious or anything (although my mom is working her way to becoming an ordained minister), but this record really has been sending chills up my back for the past two weeks. Without further ado, let’s get our ears dirty this time with the Salem Travelers’ “Children Gone Astray” – because this week we gon’ have a church up in heah!
As per usual, there is very limited information on this record, released on Chess/Checker sometime during the late 60’s – most probably in 1969, but that’s just an educated guess. A lucky search landed me on their MySpace page which solidified the fact that I absolutely adore this record. Here are the highlights…
Chester Feemster, a member of Salem Baptist Church organized the male gospel quartet. They called themselves The Salem Travelers, with each member attending churches throughout Chicago. The Salem Travelers (at the time of this release) consisted of Arthur Davis, Robert Dixon, Chester Feemster, Samuel Hanchett, Talman Thomas and William Ford.
This quartet impressed the gospel public with their stylized harmonies and complex rhythms. Demonstrating soul, drive, power, and exceptional musicianship. Giving God the glory for their gift to sing. The Salem Travelers went on to record “Give Me Liberty or Death” their first single. Following recording with record labels such as Checker Records, ABC Records, One Way Records and Creed Records. In 1980 Bennie Lee Edwards Sr. joined The Salem Travelers as a bass guitar player and singing tenor added electrifying energy to the group. The group went on to record with Nashboro Records. During the Salem Travelers career they recorded over 14 albums.
This record provides a nice mental image of going to the little church on the hill, where the air is warm and the sounds are uplifting causing the congregation to “get happy”. Some of you out there will know exactly what I mean.
Now I know you all are asking yourself, what’s this record gonna do for me… well, if you give this little snippet (preview) a listen, I think you’ll be pleasantly intrigued. It’s the heavenly harmonies, kids, and a rather funky rhythm section to boot.
I’d love to tell you that there’s a copy of this fine recording out there for all of you to have for your very own, but unfortunately, the availability is limited to say the least. I’ve found just two copies of the original vinyl for sale, both of them imports – check them out here and right here!
To top things off, have a look at this early 80’s clip, originally posted on YouTube by Chester Feemster’s daughter Jacqueline, to see the soulful Salem Travelers doing their thing with “Heaven Is My Goal”!
Now, time to head off and start studying for another round of midterms… fun! I’ve got something extra special on tap for the next time we meet so until then, have fun(k) and as always, please be safe.
Peace and blessings.