The Jordanaires ‘Working On A Building’ CD (Jasmine) 3/5

Here is a group that is best known for its work supporting others, most notably backing Elvis Presley, both at the beginning of his career, on his early 45s, and later on in the late 1960s when the Jordanaires provided harmony vocals on, ‘Heartbreak hotel’, The Jordanaires were a white gospel group with country influences who were founded back in the 1940s in Springfield, Missouri, and they became an integral part of what came to be known as the Nashville sound, backing countless singers from Johnny Cash through to Billy Swan. This re-issue combines two of their own albums, ‘Heavenly Spirit’ and ‘To God Be The Glory’, with a third recording that features Tennessee Ernie Ford. Stylistically, the sound is country-gospel, with re-arrangements of some the classic traditional gospel repertoire. Just like white country singers were listening across the tracks to black blues singers (and vice versa), so white gospel groups naturally ploughed the fertile terrain of African-American gospel. The recordings here date between 1958 and 1961, and songs such as, ‘Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho’ and a Thomas Dorsey composition, ‘Search Me Lord’, were the pick of the interpretations on the first album. That formula is pretty much repeated throughout, with, ‘Amazing Grace’ and, the evergreen, ‘Will he Circle Be Unbroken’, highlights of the second album. Possibly, the joint billing of Tennessee Ernie Ford on the third recording makes for a more diverse listening experience, though the religious lyrics keep on a coming, with, ‘Wondrous Love’ and ‘Where Could I Go’, the pick of the bunch. Interestingly, the original group were all brothers from the Mathers family, but two of these left in 1948 to become fully ordained ministers and were replaced by Bob Hubbard and Cully Holt. An additional pianist, Bob Money, was introduced, eventually replaced by Gordon Stoker, That formation is contained within and stayed together for many decades until the passing of ageing members finally caught up with the Jordanaires. By 1982, there had been several changes to the group membership and the Jordanaires were formally dissolved in 2013 after the death of Gordon Stoker, However, their music and influence will remain forever and they are, thankfully, permanent residents in the rock and roll hall of fame.

Tim Stenhouse