I Dreamt I Dwelt in Harlem
The rise of groups like the Golden Gate Quartet took gospel music out of the conservative confines of the Black church, and opened the door for other groups who wanted to sing spirituals in a different way. One of the groups to achieve success in the more liberated climate was the Hampton Institute Quartet, who changed their name to The Delta Rhythm Boys, and were equally at home delivering a pop song as a gospel item. They teamed up with Ella Fitzgerald during the 1940s recording ban in America, when her career might have been put on hold. However much the gospel group might have been threatened with eternal damnation to even think about "La Cucaracha," their fearlessness, both musically and politically, is what made them one of the greats. 20 winners, and we can't decide which we like the best, pop tunes like "Little Lize," the sweet "It Was Wonderful Then," a swinging "La Cucaracha," the silly minstrel-show tune "Watermelon on the Vine," the hip "Gimme Some Skin" and "Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gave to Me," or gospel hits like "Wait Till I Put on My Crown," a rocking "Ezekiel Saw de Wheel," "Certainly Lord," "Mighty Day," and "Scandalize My Name" (which is actually more of a commentary on religious bigotry). There's a particularly fine, laid-back early version of "Georgia on My Mind," and the swinging title tune, the final cut, is a joy. All songs at least piano accompanied, recorded in NY in 1941.