2003 OCTOBER 5 #278
While in a book store in Stone Mountain, GA, I stepped over enough paperbacks to wonder to myself, "Does Dean Koontz sleep and why don't his novels stack well?". I also made it back to a room with a phone which rang (I almost answered, but didn't) and below the phone were racks of records. I found this one, but didn't have enough money to buy it the first time around. I knew that it would be roughly where I left it when I came back and by golly, it was!
The cover is a delight. I love the cheesy graphics and the ultra-tight hand choreography. In a move I wish that was mirrored in the studio, you will notice that two of the fellows are singing but have no microphones. We should have been so lucky.
I had never heard of this record or the label, Songs of Sharon, but SOS seems to have issued several Gospel records in the 1970s. The personnel consists of the Dawkins family, mother Rose on the Fender Contempo organ, the dad Bob, the kids, Debbie, Ella. Robby and Walter Mull as the Beav...I mean, on vocals, Robby plays bongos, Mary Owens on the tambourine and Fred Tabor on the drums. Rose Dawkins was the Music Director and Bob Dawkins is credited as the Director, which makes one wonder, what is he directing? Traffic? Air flow?
These are the album notes, which were not translated to English from some other language, but occasionally read that way. Emphasis theirs:
"UP WITH AMERICA is the DAYBREAK SINGERS' salute to our great country. Any nation with such power as the United States has attained is likely to abuse it at times. Such is done by countries both small and great. Never has a country been plagued by more political strife as this country at such a celebrated time in her history than the US is now. Crime rages like a high fever. Economic instability is crowding in inflation and depression [? - Ed.]. At a time like this the DAYBREAK SINGERS ask what they can contribute that will really make a difference. When they appear at fairgrounds, military celebrations, schools, churches [Note how far down the list churches are mentioned - Ed], or wherever, their goal is the same.
Now is the time, the SINGERS feel, that we must point AMERICA UP [Once again, please glance at the hands on the album cover - Ed.]. Not only the US, but Mexico, Canada, and the rest of America. Neither new policies, economy changes, nor crime prevention will achieve this goal nearly so much as new purpose. DAYBREAK believes God gives us this purpose in Jesus Christ.
As members of DAYBREAK VILLA, the SINGERS challenge their audience everywhere [Their "audience" must be a mobile lot - Ed.] to get a fresh glimpse of Jesus. With the same conviction as the Scriptural writer, Paul, they say we are "...determined to know nothing among you save Jesus and Him crucified." [1 Corinthians 2:2. Why did they leave out the book and verse? - Ed.] The SINGERS have seen this work in troubled, disturbed lives who have been bound by the escapisms of drugs, alcohol and self. They have found something to lift UP AMERICA as well as themselves."
Reading the above doesn't prepare you for the truly poor quality of the music on this record. Rose Dawkins' keyboard is there in it's over-miked glory on every track, pounding away not unlike SCTV's Tex and Edna Boil's Prarie Warehouse ads ("Right, Tex?" "That's right, Edna."), the female vocals are passable, the male vocals are in several keys at once and the drumming sounds like an organ's rhythm machine with several preset buttons mashed down at the same time. You will notice the drummer is hiding his face on the album cover; he should.
First, there is a version of the "Steve Wonder" (that's what the label says!) song, "A Place in the Son". Yes, I know it's "Sun", but in the time-honored tradition of secular-songs-made-sacred, the spelling is changed because Jesus is the Son of God. The DAYBREAK SINGERS (I'm using their spelling) forget about this change until the very last line! Either that or they are singing it "Son" but it sounds like they're singing "Sun" to me. It's hard to tell.
Next is Andrae Crouch's "I've Got Confidence". Tabor's drumming is in full flower on this one. Firstly, he tries to reign in Rose Dawkins' time and then he shines on the rest of the cut with military fervor and wimpy, ill-timed cymbal crashes.
"Which Way America?" (no comma) is a rather stodgy, simple song, so the DAYBREAK SINGERS, took it and made it an even stodgier medley. Having grown up on bad variety shows of the 1970's, I have a hard spot in my heart for medleys and this lives down to my expectations. The patriotism, the profession of faith, the horrible, horrible decision to have the men sing solo, it's breathtaking, heart-stopping.(among other life-threatening characteristics) entertainment. This song was written for the "Up With People!" TV special in 1965 by David Bliss Allen. As a matter of fact, another song on the DAYBREAK SINGERS album, "What Color is God's Skin?" appears on the "Up With People" album and HEY! "Up With America", "Up With People", two common songs....I'm quite sure that my Bible mentions something about not stealing.
I made note of the Book and Verse of the scripture quoted in the notes. The verse before it reads, "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God"
Atlanta's DAYBREAK SINGERS have wittingly and unwittingly adhered to this proclamation.
- Brian Phillips
TT-8:40 / 7.9MB / 128kbps 44.1khz
from "Up With America"
(Images courtesy of Brian Phillips)