The Soul Of Designer RecordsBig Legal Mess
***If passion and fervor were electricity, the performances on The Soul of Designer Records could put the glow in every neon sign in the city on the Mississippi River where they were recorded. Between 1967 and 1977 Designer label founder STYLE WOOTEN and his studio main man ROLAND JANES, a heroic figure in Memphis music, produced between 400 and 500 gospel singles. Many of the artists they recorded came from Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas, but as the label’s reputation grew they began arriving from more far flung locales—Chicago, St. Louis, Boston, Ohio, the Carolinas, Florida, California—sometimes literally waiting in line for their turn to cut at Janes’ Sonic Studios. What’s astonishing is how seamlessly this set’s 101 songs by dozens of groups and solo acts lock together. That’s due to more than the unbridled sound of pure faith welling up in the varied voices of such largely obscure performers as ELIZABETH KING, who wails like Aretha on “Testify for Jesus,” and REV. LEON HAMMER, who howls like Blind Willie Johnson on “He Won’t Deny Me.” Many of these numbers share a badass, wild-eyed energy—the same primitive, reverb-soaked mojo that drives the classic Memphis rockabilly, garage rock and blues that was Janes’ specialty. 4xCD set packaged in custome LP-sized jackets with 16-page booklets.