In their heyday the Golden Gate Quartet were the ultimate hot gospel vocal group. They formed in 1934 as the Golden Gate Jubilee Singers, a traditional Negro Spiritual quartet, but soon changed their name and developed their style. They started mixing in the clever arrangements associated with barbershop quartets and hotter rhythms borrowed from gospel and blues music. Sometimes they also threw in vocal sound effects and jazz-like scat singing, both heard to great effect in Golden Gate Gospel Train.
They recorded this song in 1937, basing it on the traditional spiritual Gospel Train Is Coming. Here is a more conventional treatment of the same theme, performed in 1939 by Phil Butler, Brady Walker, Thomas Trimmer, William Grant, and Mary Lee. A more bluesy version was recorded by the Rev Edward W. Clayborn, The Guitar Evangelist, in 1926.
In later years this grand American tradition of train a-comin' songs spread further out into Curtis Mayfield's People Get Ready, Bob Dylan's 'Slow Train' (performed here by The Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir), and probably many others.
The Golden Gate Quartet has been going since the 1930s, though the last original member died in 1998.
3 March 2018
CoMA, The Festival of Contemporary Music for All
2 - 6 May 2018
Calella Festival, Costa de Barcelona
7 July 2018
Summer Spectaular featuring WWI Suite, St Georges