Isaiah Owens – You Without Sin, Cast The First Stone

Isaiah Owens – You Without Sin, Cast The First Stone

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[CASE102] - CD  packaged in classic jewelcase w/ 8-panel insert featuring extensive liner notes by CQ producer Kevin Nutt & beautiful reproductions of Yancey Allison's photo-portraits.

Isaiah Owens: guitar and lead vocals
Ann Talbert: vocals and testimony
Clarence Campbell: MC

The CaseQuarter mission continued strong with its second edition of singular sacred music of the American South. A collection of contemporary work this time, the debut solo recordings of veteran singer & guitarist Isaiah Owens.

In the early 1990s, Isaiah Owens ended a distinguished 40-year career singing lead with the gospel quartet the Flying Clouds of Montgomery, Alabama in order to focus on solo performance. Early in the 1980s, Owens had begun to teach himself guitar and he soon began sitting in on local AM gospel radio broadcasts, most notably with the Montgomery Gospelaires and later with Ann Talbert’s Cheerful Angels program. Always known for his dynamic vocals and piercing falsetto, Owens augmented the initial chords he taught himself with extremely loud volume. Along with emphasizing the rhythmic over the traditionally musical, Owens was not afraid to incorporate dissonance into his playing. The merging of Owens’ unique guitar style with his accomplished vocals makes for an intriguing and original musical experience truly not heard anywhere else in the gospel world. You Without Sin Cast The First Stone comprises 14 songs (plus 4 bonus tracks here) selected from original radio broadcasts and multi-track studio recordings of performances from 1998-2001. At the age of 69, this was Isaiah Owens’ solo debut record, released in summer 2004.

Later in 2004, the CaseQuarter crew were among those who pooled resources to fly Brother Owens up from Montgomery to NYC for a series of performances. Isaiah had never been to NYC; he had also never been on an airplane before. Filmmaker Tyler Bell's "Pray and Get Ready" film documents this auspicious journey. You can watch it here (and it is highly recommended).

Responses to the CD on its original issue:

"Gospel meets blues at the level of raw passion in the songs of Isaiah Owens. .. he sings in a voice that rasps like a preacher and leaps into serrated falsetto, letting loose gospel fervor as an exalted frenzy."
–The New York Times

"Brother Isaiah Owens is a force of nature. Another gone example of intense, vanguard creativity, spirit-filled vision and integrity. His music is wide open, full of dissonance and space, strange elliptical phrases, dynamic utterances and slurs, and comes from the heart of deep blues. It's rough, brutal and sweet at the same time. This is sanctified gospel, untamed, untainted and beyond the pale."
–Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

"Here is the one-time lead vocalist of Alabama's Flying Clouds of Montgomery unleashing his overpowering melismatic falsetto and growling exhortations to redemption. This is accompanied by a primal guitar unlearned over 20 years of solo radio preaching on the Cheerful Angels shows at WMGY. It's Pops Staples meets Hasil Adkins in an electrifying devil versus angel axe showdown. .. confrontational, baffling, inspirational, a mainline to the Truth."
–Steve Barker, The Wire

"Hmm. If CaseQuarter digs up some more gospel music like *this*, I might have to consider actually going to church some Sunday... First they brought us that wonderful Rev. Charlie Jackson collection last year, and now this, a debut album of unique gospel blues guitar stylings and amazing singing from the 70-year old Isaiah Owens. And while the Rev. Jackson disc consisted of private-press singles released in the '70s, Isaiah Owens was playing this stuff live on the radio just a few years ago. Owens had been musically active for some time before this, singing gospel since the '50s in a group called The Flying Clouds of Montgomery, but only picking up the guitar in the '80s! And being such a late starter on the instrument, he developed what you'll discover here to be a quite original style all his own. It's not intentionally avant-garde and atonal but let's just say that his self-taught playing is quite at odds with tradition...and makes for quite an accompaniment to his strong, accomplished vocals."
–Aquarius Records  

1. You Without Sin - 03:57
2. Jesus Will Provide - 02:24
3. I'll Fly Away - 04:11
4. If It Wasn't For The Lord - 03:14
5. Slip In & Tip In - 04:01
6. Prayer Wheel - 03:09
7. I've Been Down To The Water - 04:52
8. Everything Will Be Alright - 03:21
9. Yes Jesus Loves Me - 03:17
10. Cheerful Angels Commercial - 01:54
11. I Wonder Do You Know - 03:39
12. Wake Me, Shake Me - 02:49
13. Nobody's Fault But Mine - 03:26
14. Heaven Must Be A Beautiful Place - 03:16
15. God Bless Our Love - 06:38
16. I've Decided That Jesus Is My Choice - 02:52
17. He Is Real In My Soul - 02:23
18. If I've Done Anything Wrong - 05:48

Tracks 1, 2, 17, 18: radio broadcasts, WMGY-800 AM,
Montgomery, Alabama.

Tracks 4-6 & 8-10: 4-track recordings at WMGY studio.

Tracks 3, 7 & 11-16: 4-track recordings at Alabama Center
for Traditional Culture, Montgomery, Alabama;
engineered by Steve Grauberger.

Mastered by Chris Flam at Mindswerve, NYC.

Photography: Yancey Allison
November 25, 2003, Montgomery, Alabama

Produced by Kevin Nutt for CaseQuarter

Special Thanks To: Brian Turner