Week #114: “To the End” – Hightower Brothers
Nashboro 719, early 1960s
Eschewing the frenetic shouting typical of the Hightower Brothers’ most popular recordings, Robert Lee “Sugar” Hightower slows it up on “To the End,” delivering a gospel ballad with a melodic line more reminscent of early soul than gospel music. The remainder of the Hightowers provide a nicely crafted harmony line behind Sugar as he infuses each note with passion.
While the Hightower Brothers’ recording days were few in number — approximately six years (1958-1964) — they left a legacy of energizing gospel music with tight harmonies, simple but effective instrumentation, and the always-appealing young, hoarse voice of Sugar who was to gospel what Frankie Lymon and Little Anthony were to secular music. While the quartet’s recordings such as “Finally Made it In” were better known than “To the End,” the latter arguably represents their finest moment.
Today, Sugar Hightower plays guitar for another legendary gospel quartet and a former labelmates on Nashboro: Howard “Slim” Hunt and the Supreme Angels.