Listen and believe.
Sometimes it's better to learn from the music than learn about it. I got God's Got It in the mail with a fairly dense press sheet and proceeded to skim that information on my walk to work. But when I got home and popped the disc in the player, I realized I had better forget all I read. Leave the mind behind; listen to the soul.
And now I face the onerous task of exactly this sort of elaboration. Lord help me. You can either trust me now that God's Got It is a wondrous revelation, or read on to be convinced (at your own risk).
Somewhere along the meandering course of American music, gospel has tended to fade off into a dim shadow in the face of the blues. The blues carry that simple, straightforward sense of lament that appeals to just about everyone. But what about gospel? It's got a fundamentally uplifting sense of wonder and spiritual knowledge, the yang to the yin of blues. A lost sister, perhaps?
But take it from Reverend Charlie Jackson: God's got it. And He's got it good. This collection of 18 rough tracks from the '70s document the Reverend singing praise to the accompaniment of his heavily folk-inflected guitar (plus occasional shouts and clapping). Folk music from the Southern African American tradition ain't that long-hair hippie stuff. Jackson testifies from his musical pulpit in the spirit of a Louisiana church revival, emphasizing long notes with a tremulous anticipation of the inevitable climax to come. He plays and sings alone or with supporting vocals; he backs up other singers with his guitar on a few tracks.
God's Got It is pure testimony from start to finish, but its fidelity of soul is not matched by sonic fidelity. Bear in mind that these tracks were mastered off of old '45s made between 1970 and 1978. But purity of sound is hardly the point. The messages come in straightforward form ("Lord You're So Good") but it also comes along in the spirit of symbolic discovery, as when Jackson goes fishing ("Wrapped Up...") and realizes "I wish the Lord would hook me one day..."
The Reverend hums, sings, shouts, and yelps with exuberance and very little restraint, which makes for an emotional ride. Charlie Jackson's strength is not in any sort of guitar virtuosity (quite the opposite) or vocal accuracy (none of that)... it's in his connection with his fellow man and the Lordand the way he shares that revelation.
Listen and believe.
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Personnel: Reverend Charlie Jackson - vocals and (electric) guitar; Brother Ike Gordon, Laura Davis, Caravan
No.2 of Zachary - vocals; Mary Bennett, Ike Gordon, Frances Jackson, Johnny Jackson - chorus