The release of a new archival live set from Sister Rosetta Tharpe recorded in France should be of particular interest- surely to her most ardent fans who recognize the import of its location; France was always a welcoming haven for the Sister. She gave some of her finest performances on the European continent, and in France, especially. As Henry Rollins attests in the extensive liner notes, it was a concert recording from France that he purchased decades ago that immediately drew him to the pioneering musician, and held him there ever since. So many share that origin story: discovering Tharpe and her captivating live show, and never letting go.

This Record Story Day special available on vinyl and CD, capturing a 1966 set in Limoges, is no exception, and has that kind of hypnotic, magnetic appeal. It’s a solo performance- just Tharpe and her electric guitar, and the quietest of respectful audiences- offering 21 intimately sanctified songs. The repertoire moves between classic Tharpe originals, beginning with “This Train,” and fitting covers, including traditional numbers she’s arranged, such as passionate renditions of “Down By The Riverside” and the closing “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” 

It’s an arresting appearance from the Godmother of Rock-and-Roll, rescued from the French archives, and is nothing shy of historic. Anything previously unreleased by Tharpe is considered treasure, but given the exquisite fidelity of this pro-recorded collection, this one is exceptionally vivid and valued. Tharpe’s lasting influence on so many- Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton, for starters- is undeniable, and this set is further proof of her uniquely groundbreaking work. As Rollins says, “Sister Rosetta rocks absolutely.”