Week 115: “No Love is Sweeter” Echoes of Harmony ca. early 1970s (Savoy LP 14280)
I could not find definitive information on the Echoes of Harmony, and that’s a shame, because they are superb! If, however, this quartet is the same as the Echoes of Harmony of Jersey City, NJ — and given Savoy’s headquarters in Newark, NJ, it is entirely possible — then the quartet was founded by Deacon Robert W. Jones in 1947. By 1969, Jones was the only remaining original member. At that time, Echoes’ personnel was Jones (founder and tenor), Simon Dingle (lead), Otis Dingle (2nd lead), Thorn Maggett (utility), Jonathan Taylor (baritone), Hayward Gregory (guitar), and Robert Dingle (bass guitar). This roster, or one similar to it, would be the one that recorded for Savoy.
Given the catalog number of their Savoy LP, the recording must have been made in the early 1970s, though truthfully it sounds like an early 1960s production from the quartet’s tight, urgent harmonies and hard-style lead singing to its basic instrumentation, led by jangling electric guitar riffs. Again, if the group was founded in the late 1940s, they may well have kept much of their Golden Age quartet sound intact decades later, as the Harmonizing Four and Norfleet Brothers did.
“No Love is Sweeter” is by far the best track on the LP. It is an example of that wonderful amalgam of gospel, blues, doo-wop, and soul that was prevalent in the late 50s/early 60s, and that apparently was the Echoes’ M.O. ten years later.
The song, resplendent with high, dramatic harmonies and confident, fire-and-brimstone lead singing, recounts the travails of dealing with people who scandalize your name and debtors who turn the other way when they see you coming. Gospel artists, then and now, know all too well both kinds of folk. And on “No Love is Sweeter,” the Echoes of Harmony make it clear who to turn to for love in the midst of such falsehood.
Thanks to Jason Rosenberg for introducing this recording to me. If anyone out there knows anything more about Savoy’s Echoes of Harmony, please let this blogger know.