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White Culture Shock in 1960: The Abyssinian Baptist Gospel Choir of Newark, New Jersey

Written by Gary North on May 2, 2015

YouTube makes every musical style available, free of charge. This is a cultural phenomenon like nothing in history. It was not always so.

It was 1960. I lived in Southern California. I was in college.

I listened to FM radio. I had listened ever since 1955. FM was just beginning to get an audience in 1960, due to the Japanese invasion: cheap transistor radios that had FM’s frequencies. I was an FM connoisseur. I had a Fisher tuner. I had the most expensive sound system at my college. I have described it here. (The sound could be matched today for a few hundred dollars — sadly, my ears can’t.)

I was listening to the Les Claypool show. He had a weekly show devoted to folk music. Two years later, he would introduce Southern California to Bob Dylan.

He put on a new album. He played the first track.

What was I hearing?

Then came this.

The next day, I started calling record stores. No success. Then one store said it had a copy. I got into my car and drove 15 miles. (No Amazon in 1960.) It was a demo copy: Not for Sale. The guy sold it to me.

It must have been summer. I must have come home from school. The store was in Los Angeles, not Riverside.

Some things you never forget.

I had stumbled into the mother lode. A review appears in the book, 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die.

You have now heard the two best tracks. You now have 999 recordings to go.

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