Sunday, November 22, 2009

Old Time Religion

Category: 50 Songs to Hear

SONG: Rock of Ages, Hide Thou Me
ARTIST: Browns Ferry Four
ALBUM: None, released on 78
YEAR/LABEL: 1946; King

The "Hee Haw Quartet" was just an attempt to try to imitate the Browns Ferry Four.
(Grandpa Jones)

King Recor
ds was the place to be for hillbilly recordings in the immediate aftermath of World War II. The roster reads like a "who's who" of Hall of Fame members or people who should be there. The Browns Ferry Four was a group that literally was a who's who of Hall of Famers: Alton and Rabon Delmore (2001 inductees), Grandpa Jones (1978), and rotating bass singers, usually Red Foley (1967) or Merle Travis (1977). These secular artists joined forces occasionally to record gospel sides for release. The results were usually good, but the standout was "Rock of Ages, Hide Thou Me."

There was nothing complicated about the Browns Ferry Four.
All they did was sing, and oh how they sang. The diverse vocal styles of the acts blended together perfectly to create a lovely sound reminiscent of a southern church house on Sunday morning. Red Foley was the bass singer on the session that produced this song. One guitar provided the musical accompaniment. On the chorus the quartet changed from singing together to a call-and-response style with Alton and Rabon taking turns while Foley provided the superb bass singing.

The Browns Ferry Four left too few (44) gospel recordings and no secular work. Their last recording session was in August 1952, less than four months before junior Delmore Brother Rabon lost his battle with lung cancer. The beautiful harmonies they left on this and the other tracks they did record show that they could have been the first "supergroup" in country music.


Our Town
Old Memories Mean Nothing to Me
Not That I Care
Nobody Eats at Linebaugh's Anymore
My Book of Memories
Lost to a Stranger
A Little Bitty Heart
Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs
Life is Too Short
I Want a Home in Dixie
I Lost Today
Down to the River to Pray
Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyeballs
A Death in the Family
Dark as a Dungeon
Bottomless Well

Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate
She's a Runaway
Painted Bells
Out to Sea
One More Song
New Delhi Freight Train
Long Way Home
Heart of Rome
Harriet Tubman's Gonna Carry Me Home
Entella Hotel
Desperados Under the Eaves
Crossing Muddy Waters
Cliffs of Dooneen
Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
Baby Mine

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