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Rhythm & Views

Fern Jones

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Pretty much the missing link between the sacred and the profane, Fern Jones' The Glory Road is one of the purest blends of gospel and rock 'n' roll music ever recorded. Jones made just two records before disappearing into obscurity. Originally released in 1959 as Singing a Happy Song, The Glory Road has been re-released into a very different world by the Numero Group.

Fern Jones was a preacher's wife from Arkansas who performed in literally thousands of churches' tent revival shows around the country for two decades. Sounding like Patsy Cline in church or a hands-off cousin of Carl Perkins or Jerry Lee Lewis, Jones fully erases the line between the secular and the spiritual with her songs and her performance. Backed by four members of Nashville's A-list of sessions players (Hank Garland, Floyd Cramer, Joe Zinkan and Buddy Harman, all fresh off sessions with Elvis Presley), Jones tears, burns and testifies through 16 tracks of transcendental rockabilly gospel. Powered by Cramer's swinging piano and Garland's guitar, "You Ain't Got Nothing," "Strange Things Happening Every Day" and "I Ain't Got Time" rock as hard as anything the boys at Sun Records were laying down. Others like "Keeps Me Busy" and "I Am a Pilgrim" are more traditional gospel numbers.

Her song "I Was There When It Happened" was a hit for Jimmie Davis and recorded by Johnny Cash and others, but Jones herself had no real commercial success as a performer. The Glory Road is a remarkable time capsule, proof that there are still rocks to be rolled over, revealing lost and forgotten treasures.

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