Blind Gussie Nesbit: Pure Religion (1930)

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Blind Gussie Nesbit: Pure Religion (1930)

The surprisingly good recent Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Volume 13; Trouble No More set – which was live material from his brief evangelical period but truly rocked that gospel rock'n'soul spirit – illustrated how sometimes the Lord could move troubled souls, non-believers and ne'er-do-wells alike.

There was no room for the unfaithful, doubters or backsliders in Dylan's canon.

But what was also clear was when Dylan played these songs of his new-found faith he was so musically inspired and fervent in his belief that he tapped some deep and visceral emotions within himself in way he probably hadn't done for quite a while.

He wasn't going through the motions.

As we noted in our review of the expanded box set, he almost sounded like he was playing rock'n'roll, the Devil's music.

51PSz46s_ML._SX425_For some folk if Jesus exists and walks this world then the corollary is that so too does the Devil, as real as ordinary-born Man.

For those who want to hear how much religion/Jesus/redemption was embedded in the original country blues then the terrific compilation The Rough Guide to Holy Blues (Rough Guide through Southbound in New Zealand) is the first-stop shop.

There are some well-known names here (Reverend Gary Davis, the great Blind Willie Johnson, Bukka White and Skip James (of I'm So Glad fame) kick of these 25 tracks) but, as always, it is the little known names like Mother McCollum, Louis Washington, Sam Collins (on the melancholy I Want to be Like Jesus in My Heart with terrific falsetto and slide) and Bull City Red who are the revelations.

As is Blind Gussie Nesbit.

Typically with such artists not a lot is known of Nesbit's life other than the spare details of his few sessions, but because of the miracle of recording we can still – almost 90 years after his rendition of this traditional song whose origins are lost in the fog of memories – hear him testifying.

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

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