The Swan Silvertones – There’s Not a Friend Like Jesus

There's Not a Friend Like Jesus

The Swan SilvertonesThere’s Not a Friend Like Jesus Savoy SL-14505 (1979)

Stylistically, There’s Not a Friend Like Jesus (or simply Not a Friend as the back of the album jacket states) is a fairly typical late-period Swan Silvertones album.  The instrumental backing is polished, though the underlying material is too bland for that to matter.  There is surprisingly little singing here.  Louis Johnson is at the front, with only minimal backing vocals.  But Johnson often sermonizes without truly singing.  That makes this a somewhat disappointing album, even with reduced expectations that take into account the generally unambitious nature of the era of the Swans’ career that produced it.  It’s also a bad sign that this is the only Swan Silvertones album to feature an extended electric guitar solo.  This may earn the distinction of being the very worst Swan Silvertones album.

Apparently none of The Swan Silvertones’ recordings for Savoy Records have been released on CD.  But the original LPs are relatively easy to come by for reasonable prices, as the Savoy period is the least interesting of the group’s long career and there are plenty of people out there willing to give up their discs.  The same can’t be said for the group’s earliest material for the King, Specialty and Vee-Jay record labels, almost all of which is readily available on CD.  Material for HOB Records has seen only limited re-release on CD, mostly by way of shoddy “best of” sets and not full-album reissues.  The HOB material is good enough in quality and hard enough to come by that prices for vinyl tend to be a bit high, and the CD compilations often aren’t worthwhile due to being so incomplete.