Don’t Let The Devil Ride
Perpetual Obscurity Records
Paul Thorn was born the son of a preacher. The first music he was ever exposed to excited him and it was gospel music. “Thorn spent his youth singing in his father’s Pentecostal church…but his most memorable musical experiences were at an African American branch…the Okolona Sunrise Church of Prophecy”.
When Thorn purchased records he had to hide them so his father could not find them. He was “disfellowshipped” by the deacons when they discovered he had slept with his girlfriend. After the National Guard and a stint as a boxer (he once fought Roberto Duran) he got a job songwriting for Rick Hall, owner of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals.
Thorn does not possess your usual gospel voice. He does possess an enthusiasm for the genre. These songs inspired Thorn and they are mostly lesser known chestnuts released by small Mississippi and Alabama record labels. Along for the “ride” are the Blind Boys of Alabama, The McCrary Sisters, the Preservation Hall Jazz Horns and Bonnie Bishop. The core band includes vocalist Thorn; Bill Hinds, guitar; Michael Graham, keyboards; Ralph Friedrichsen and Dominic Davis, bass; Jeffrey Perkins and George Recile, drums; and Colin Linden, guitars and mandolin. The album is wonderfully produced by Linden and Billy Maddox.
My favorites among these chestnuts are four songs in the middle of the recording. “He’s A Battle Axe” is credited to the Rev. Willie Davis; “SomethingOn My Mind”; “Soon I Will Be Done” and “One More River”. The title track was penned by O.V. Wright when he was still singing lead with the Memphis based “Sunset Travelers”. The most well known song on the album is also the closer, the O’Jay’s famous single, “Love Train”.
It’s great to learn more about the increasingly popular Thorn who states “this is the culmination of my whole life in music, coming back to my gospel roots”. Thorn goes on to say “I want to help lighten your load and make you smile.” He’s done it again.
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