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The Reverend Charlie Jackson
GOD’S GOT IT: THE LEGENDARY BOOKER AND JACKSON SINGLES
(CASEQUARTER)
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This retrospective is fire-breathing proof that the distance between blues and gospel is less than a razor’s edge. Cut by the guitar-slinging Reverend Jackson between 1970 and 1978, the 18 sides here sound as if they’d been made 30 years earlier, they’re so full of dust from Jackson’s native Mississippi and old-fashioned preacher’s brimstone. The musical sermon "Wrapped Up and Tangled Up in Jesus," a confession of religious awakening, is raw as anything by the Fat Possum label’s juke-joint kings. And "Testimony of Rev. Charlie Jackson," with its probing tremolo guitar, is a hair-raising story of Jackson’s first stroke and recovery. But his best storytelling is on "Something To Think About," where he sings about Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, and the struggle for civil rights, declaring, "In the middle of the ocean/In the middle of the night/We’ll keep on fighting/Until we bring daylight."

There’s no shortage of chills on this disc, whether from the raggedy goodness of Jackson’s accompanying guitar licks or his narratives of sin and struggle, but the most profound moment is triggered by his vocal performance on "Lord So Good," where he conveys the sound of a lonely soul in dark crisis crying in hope of redemption. This disc captures him in his heyday, but at 71, and impaired by more strokes since the ’70s, Jackson, who lives in Baton Rouge, still makes occasional appearances at churches and festivals in testimony to his seemingly God-given endurance.

BY TED DROZDOWSKI


Issue Date: August 22 - August 28, 2003
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