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Larry Blivens, Sister Pope & the Pearly Gates - Highway
(Checker 5004, rec. late 1964, issued early 1965 prob.)

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October 2011

I bought this 45 expecting a typical 60's female group. I did know about Sister Lucille Pope but couldn't remember having heard anything from her recordings, so I could be wrong... and I was! I was really surprised with what I heard; good, soulful and haunting gospel tunes that really got me carried away. "Highway" sounded like a male group to me and after checking the "Gospel Discography" by Robert Laughton and Cedric Hayes, this appeared to be true as the lead vocals were done by Larry Blivens, uncredited on the label.

This 45 was first released on Eddo 166 (reverse side: "Jesus Tore My Heart To Pieces", for a scan of this side, from the Eddo 45, scroll down). Probably at the same session, the group recorded four other tunes that were first issued on Eddo. After a gap of around 9-10 years, Sister was back in the studio, recording for Nashboro. She stayed with Nashboro until the late 70's. After that she recorded several albums for the Air label. I couldn't find any recent information but it appears Sister Lucille Pope is still alive and well. Larry Blivens is a mystery man, there's no information at all, except that he's being mentioned in the "Gospel Discography" for his lead vocals on "Highway" and "Early One Morning".


Eddo 166 (source: internet)