Monday, December 06, 2010
Rev. Johnny L. Jones - The Hurricane that Hit Atlanta
The Hurricane that Hit Atlanta
Rev. Johnny L. Jones of Atlanta is not nicknamed "Hurricane" for nothing. This passionate preacher summons the force of a mighty wind when he gets to singing, shouting, or delivering a message.
Thanks to Lance Ledbetter and his marvelous Dust-to-Digital enterprise, more than two and a half hours of selections from Rev. Jones’ 1,000+ hours of archived tape ministry are available to the public for the first time. The Hurricane that Hit Atlanta is two CDs packed with gospel singing, preaching, moaning, bluesy musicianship, lined-out “Doc Watts” hymns, local radio advertising, members slain by the spirit and congregational singing, the earliest track dating back to 1957.
While today's radio waves, gospel charts and mega-churches resonate with the sound of polished praise and worship, contemporary gospel, gospel hip hop and R&B-infused sacred music, many African American churches, especially smaller ones, shake the rafters like Jones’ Second Mount Olive Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Here you will hear simple, energetic renditions of traditional gospels and hymns accompanied by musicians who play with the furor of a garage blues band. The audio quality of the CDs is amazingly clear, given the low-fidelity source materials, though the project maintains its raw authenticity, like a Lomax field recording.
Jones shouts and hollers so hard I had to keep looking at the CD booklet to remind myself that he isn’t a Holiness preacher. During "My Lord is a Rock in a Weary Land," Jones all but acknowledges this by singing the famous couplet, "Some folks they call me noisy, I belong to a noisy crew/Well, we shout when we get happy, that's the way all Christians do." I did a double-take when the choir and congregation launched into the Church of God in Christ’s “Yes Lord” chant during “A Mother Loves Her Children All the Time.” Anyone who doubts that gospel music can and does cross denominational boundaries need only listen to the mesmerizing and hypnotic singing on the religious jam sessions “I Love the Lord” and “I Don’t Know What You Come to Do” to hear the sanctified influence on the Baptist beat.
Jones is accompanied by a parade of male and female soloists and the church choir, which renders deliciously amateur but nonetheless enthusiastic interpretations of classics such as “God Specializes,” “I Promised the Lord that I Would Hold Out,” and "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me."
The CD booklet, which provides archival photos and biographical information on the pastor, does not indicate when each track was recorded but it doesn’t much matter. The whole package feels timeless.
Five of Five Stars
Picks: “I Love the Lord,” “Glad About It,” "God Specializes."