The Liner/Sleeve Notes:
“To begin this story of how God has blessed my life, may I say that God gets all the glory and all the credit, yes and all the praise for what He has done in my life. As I write this myself, none of this is intended as boasting or bragging, although certain facts may bear a resemblance.
This is the story not just of Rev. Alberta Baker, but of how God has made manifest His power in my life and thru my music. I began my musical career at the age of five at an old fashioned pipe organ and I remember, I could reach the pumps with one foot. It wasn’t long however, when I discovered I could also play the piano. Even at an early age, I began to play special numbers at revival meetings throughout the area. Later on, when the 1930’s where changing into the 1940’s, I took a deep interest in the piano-accordian but it wasn’t until about 1953 that my interest took action and I really began to play this instrument to any extent. Finally I went to the electric organ. Also about 1954, an evangelist from Florida dubbed me “The Handless Pianist” which has since been changed to the “HANDLESS ORGANIST”!
Again, may I say that God must be glorified in this, for it is he who has given me the ability that I have.
Rev. Alberta Baker”
Well, well, well. The Holy Grail of Gospel Records (as it’s dubbed everywhere on the internet), one of THE rarest records of ALL TIME. I present, the HANDLESS ORGANIST! (and let me add in, it cost a pretty penny!) and it was one of those records I did not think existed. Enough yammering about it, here is my review!
So, the A-Side opens with a personal favorite of mine, “Jesus, Use Me” – and although I do prefer Richard Miller‘s version. Rev. Baker’s version is still delivered very well, both vocally and instrumentally. The next track is the song “All Praise to the Saviour” and once again, it is delivered well instrumentally and vocally, especially when she sings the word “Free” (“Freeeeeeeeee-EEEEEEE”), the third track (another vocal) is “I’m Longing for Jesus” and Rev. Baker has this somewhat childlike voice, it’s Southern-y but childlike, (which is weird, considering the liner notes say she is from New York State, Olean to be exact!) the song is good, but it’s all very quiet and slow. It’s basically putting me to sleep, (though, it’s 2:03 AM) – the next track is “Turn Your Radio On” which I feel would’ve made a better CCM song, as opposed to a Southern Gospel song. Nevertheless, this song and “Jesus Use Me” seem to be the two who stand out the most. Then comes the track “He is Coming Soon” (which, you guessed it, it’s about the second coming of Jesus.) Oddly enough, I usually like these second coming songs. I did not like this one, it was slow, short and boring. Next comes “I Want a Double Portion” which is okay, but seems to use the same notes over and over again. The lyrics are good. The next track is an instrumental version “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” (Denise does it better.) but, that being said – for a woman with no hands, she can sure as hell play the organ. The next song, is another organ instrumental, “I Saw a Man” (Yea, I can’t think of anything to say to that.) The next song is another instrumental titled “His Hand in Mine” which overall reminds me that song they play in the film “Titanic” when the ship is sinking. The A-Side closes with the track “The End of Time” – which I feel should’ve been the final track on the WHOLE LP not just the A-Side, but hey, that’s my opinion.
The B-Side opens with the vocal track, “Beside the Still Waters” – which is rather good! I’m slowly starting to like Rev. Baker’s vocals, though, of course, (with my dumb luck) this track is filled with skipping, scratches and popping. The song ends on a good note, that being I liked it. The next song is “I Walk with the King” – which is another organ instrumental delivered greatly by Rev. Baker. (Weirdly, the song just stops.) The next track is the song “Assurance March” which really isn’t a marching song. I’m disappointed. Wait, wait! What is this! A drum machine! My gosh! This brings things up a bit! The next song is “Heavenly Sunlight” which is an organ instrumental again. Next comes “The Beautiful Garden of Prayer” – and at this point, I wonder what the guys in the recording studio thought throughout this recording. (Not saying that in a bad way either, just curious. As you can hear some background noise on this song, whispering I think.) Oh look, a vocal number! “Miracles Still Happen Today” – and boom. 30 seconds later, it’s over. “The Lord is My Shepherd” comes up next, and wow! It’s actually longer! Thus, making this a better song! The next track is an instrumental version of “How Great Thou Art” – I prefer it with vocals. Anyways, the B-Side closes with the track “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”.
Anyways, I’ve searched and I’ve searched all over the internet to find anything I could about the Handless Organist, Rev. Alberta Baker, but nothing. I’ve found some obituaries but that being said, either the years don’t add up, or the location. If you know anything about Rev. Baker, feel free to comment below 🙂
It’s the Handless Organist… what is not interesting here?
A1 – Jesus, Use Me
A2 – All Praise to the Saviour
A3 – I’m Longing for Jesus
A4 – Turn Your Radio On
A5 – He is Coming Soon
A6 – I Want A Double Portion
A7 – Just A Closer Walk with Thee
A8 – I Saw A Man
A9 – His Hand in Mine
A10 – The End of Time
B1 – Beside the Still Waters
B2 – I Walk with The King
B3 – Assurance March
B4 – Heavenly Sunlight
B5 – The Beautiful Garden of Prayer
B6 – Miracles Still Happen Today
B7 – The Lords My Shepherd
B8 – How Great Thou Art
B9 – What A Friend We Have in Jesus
Studio Musicians & Other Album Credits:
Recorded by Rev. Baker
Rev. Baker performs on the Whurlitzer 4140 Organ
Production Supervision – Century Custom Recording Service of Buffalo, New York
Other Albums I Own by the Handless Organist: