I have a rule of thumb when it comes to album covers that look like this: if it’s from the South or Appalachia, buy it. 9 times out of 10 I’m not disappointed. You’ll see some covers that kinda look similar out west, but usually it’s the most horrendous Christian pop fodder you could ever imagine.
My level of being a head is that I geek out over Southern Country Gospel records, even the bad ones. I’m a sucker for the twang. There’s also something in that Southern water. There must be. It’s unreal how much amazing music has come out of that greater region.
Now this album has the look of your of standard Southern Gospel private press LP (embarrassing 1970’s outfits, a simple cover photo, stoic stares, etc). But this one sets itself apart. First of all, there’s a Banjo, meaning that this is Bluegrass Gospel, a style of music that is pretty much always absolutely wonderful. Secondly, this is on Old Homestead Records, a label well known for its many quality releases of American Roots music. So this is a no brainer. You should buy it.
You’re gonna have to come down and hear it, but these funny looking guys in bad suits sing some of the most glorious Mountain style harmonies. This is pure, beautiful Appalachian Bluegrass Gospel at its finest. To the uninitiated, this was the extremely pretty sounding music from the film Oh Brother Where Art Thou. Music straight out of the heavens, and you’d have a hard time finding anything quite as good as these guys in bad suits. Seriously, this stuff is absolutely beautiful.
From the label itself:
“We at Old Homestead feel the Wilson Brothers do the best of anyone at trying to recapture the old mountain sound made famous on records by The Stanley Brothers. They also inject their own fine arrangements to the old songs as well as their own compositions. I feel as they get more and more exposure from their records and personal appearances, they will become one of the most popular bands in the country playing their kind of music.”
The Wilson Brothers (with the Bluegrass Harvesters)- Preach The Word (Old Homestead Records, 1977) is available at Folk Arts for $8. You can find it in my Bluegrass Gospel section.
This excellent album can’t be found on youtube, but here are some random samples of this group’s music: