VIA: National Public Radio

Fire in My Bones: Raw, Rare and Otherworldly African-American Gospel is a new three-CD set that explores the diversity of postwar gospel music. Across 80 songs spanning six decades, the collection ranges from scratchy field recordings to intricate vocal harmonies to snappy adaptations of rock ‘n’ roll rhythms. The different styles of gospel are also at the heart of Born Again Funk, the latest installment in the Good God! series which highlights gospel’s collision with funk music of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Fire in My Bones is a sprawling attempt to touch on black gospel’s myriad forms from 1944 through 2007. Clocking in at nearly four hours, the set has no obvious chronological, geographical or topical structure. It can go from Oakland’s Sister Mathews, backed only by a blues guitar, belting out “Stand By Me” in 1948; and then advance to 1973 and Brooklyn’s Nathaniel Rivers, singing “The Wicked Shall Cease From Troubling” over a warbling organ; then slide down to South Carolina in 1963 with an a cappella rendition of “That’s Alright” by Laura Rivers. Even as the compilation jumps eras, cities and sensibilities, gospel’s core elements become illuminated — especially the power of repetition.

Born Again Funk hones in on small, independent-label gospel records, most of them recorded around Chicago during the 1970s.

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