Music Reviews

The Reverend Lester Knox of Tifton, Georgia

Put Your Face in Gwod: The 366th Revival

The Smack Shire

The Reverend Knox spat crazy hellfire and brimstone, and occasionally hope. South Georgia (or Florida, or the South, or the USA) is properly steeped in a caricature of Christian history, partly due to folks like the Peach State’s Reverend Knox. Indeed, the audio recordings here of his disfavored AM radio-preaching do not necessarily put an appealing spin on the “Gospel as Truth” or “God is Love” options. Not that judging is virtuous.

No, Knox was one tough nut to crack. On Put Your Face in Gwod, he shares varied testimonies of healing, a vengeful God, salvation, an unknown presence flicking on and off the lights in the radio station, and an unknown entity tampering with the studio door. Yes, friends, some of thee aspects of his message – er, unclear. Obvious pronunciations are often botched, hence the title. Tinny, unrehearsed and sincere, the Reverend’s words were snapped outta the air and preserved. The reason why is unclear.

Folks, let us consider for a moment the attention given to Smithsonian Folkways, Harry Smith’s recordings, William Oldham and other aesthetes lauding simple American music. Amidst this congregation might Rev. Knox dwell, for his preaching time is shared with primary Gospel music renderings that recall, for ease sake, The Shaggs. Knox’s in-studio musicians (and Knox himself) consistently reduced classics like “He Touched Me” and “I’ve Got a Home in That Rock” to a pre-tongues charisma that is as unexplainable as it is free from critique.

Tom Smith and Gerard Klauder have built The Smack Shire, home to Rev. Knox. I’ve known Tom some eight years, having critically supported his personal music making with the late, great To Live and Shave in L.A. Thus, my review is influenced by a set of expectations about Smith’s taste, and general support for his vision thing.

I’m glad Reverend Knox has been heard. To me, the disc is artifact, cantankerous, irresistible.

The Smack Shire:

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