Saturday, December 11, 2004

Some day there'll be dancing...

Download: GEORGE PERKINS AND THE SILVER STARS "Crying in the Streets Pt. 2"

George Perkins & The Silver Stars recorded only one single, "Crying in the Streets Pt. 1"/ "Crying in the Streets Pt. 2," on Silver Fox Records, 1970. You can find it pretty cheap if you look. My copy is pretty scratched-up; sorry. I first heard it ten years ago on the 1992 CD companion to Peter Guralnick's essential book Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom. It is among the most amazing gospell-y soul songs I've ever heard, and if I were to pretend to be an expert I'd say I consider it the great lost civil rights anthem.

Of course, the true soundtrack to the civil rights struggle was gospel, from the role of certain spirituals in the 19th century as code for slave breaks ("Wade In The Water") on up to Mahalia onstage with Dr. King, urging him towards the extemporaneous "I Have A Dream" speech when she shouted "Tell them about the dream Martin!" Sam Cooke's "Change Is Gonna Come," one of the only songs he sang as fully as he did when he was with the Soul Stirrers, is to me, 100% a gospel song even though the word "God" is never uttered. It doesn't need to be. Call it a secular gospel tune.

Into this fake category I just made up I'd like to add the Perkins single; the A-Side mentions "marching" then "praying," and the B-Side mentions "dancing," but really this song is a fabulous, mournful gospel dirge. Not to get all Fake-Prof. on you (calling the Cult of Greil) but I think of this song as a wake for the devastation of the movement itself, thanks largely to targeted assassinations, and while the B-Side attempts to uplift, I'm not sure it does (that's not meant as criticism).

Perkins(?)' falsetto is straight from the church; is it just me or does he sound a bit like Claude Jeter? "Pt. 1" is far better than "Pt. 2," if I had to grade them, but I've uploaded "Pt. 2" as I have minimal server space but mostly 'cause it's "Pt. 1" that is included on three commercial CD comp.s -- most recently it leads off the 1998 Trikont collection Down & Out: The Sad Soul of the Black South -- but never "Pt. 2." As far as I know, the B-Side has never been reissued.

Someone, tell me something, anything about George Perkins and/ or the Silver Stars. Please! Thanks in advance.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi i dont know you, and you really dont know me..but i was reading this entry about George Perkins and the Silver Stars and his song cryin in the streets, i ahppen to know mr perkins, i work his his daughter, who sings just as well as her father. His daughter owns a talent adgency in BR. The song is wonderful, and i thought you would like to know what is going on with it, although alot of it, im just not at liberty to say. have a wonderful day. Hawk. Stage Cord. at Exposure Entertainment

11:54 PM  

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