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5.0 out of 5 stars "...My Mind Holds This World In Its Hand..." - Be Altitude: Respect Yourself by THE STAPLE SINGERS (2011 CD Remaster), 28 Aug 2011
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Be Altitude: Respect Yourself [Stax Remasters] (Audio CD)
In 2004 the Fantasy Group acquired the entire Stax catalogue and its mastertapes - and through their 'Concord Music Group, Inc' Division - this release is the first of 3 inaugural CDs re-launching the famous Soul label (with more to follow at intervals). They all feature brand-new 24-bit remasters, bonus tracks, updated booklets and are pitched at mid-price. Each title carries the generic logo "Stax Remasters" on their spine to differentiate them from previous issues.

Released May 2011, Concord Music Group, Inc 0888072328761 breaks down as follows (49:38 minutes):

Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Be Altitude: Respect Yourself" released March 1972 in the USA on Stax STS-3002 and April 1972 in the UK on Stax Super 2325 069

Tracks 11 and 12 are "Walking In Water Over Our Head" and "Heavy Makes You Happy (Alternate)" - both are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

The new 12-page booklet has very knowledgeable and affectionate liner notes by ROB BOWMAN (author of "Soulsville U.S.A. - The Story Of Stax Records"). You get the original artwork and production credits also and there's a collage of 3 photos on the inlay beneath the see-through tray and the disc itself pictures the group too. But it's a shame the booklet goes no further - there's no new photos, none of those magical Stax sevens pictured nor any memorabilia. It makes the inlay feel workmanlike at best - even a little dull - when it should have spread its wings a little. But the big news is the SOUND...

24-bit remastered from the first generation tapes by JOE TARANTINO at Joe Tarantino Mastering in Berkeley, California - the audio quality is truly GORGEOUS. Having had previous versions of this great Soul album on CD from the mid 1990's - the sound was good rather than great - hissy in places too. That's all gone - and it's not loud for loudness sake either - but clear and warm and full of presence. The bass is beautiful as is the rhythm section - and the powerhouse vocals of Mavis Staples now take centre stage in a way they've never done before. "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There" are so common to our ears that it comes as a genuine shock to hear them sound this good. The other single off the album "This World" is so clear and muscular too (lyrics above). A fantastic job done.

The bonus tracks are way better than I had expected - the 'Alternate' version of Jeff Barry and Bobby Bloom's "Heavy Makes You Happy" was recorded August 1970 at their first session in the Muscle Shoals Studios and sounds like a live rehearsal - it's excellent. You can clearly hear EDDIE HINTON on Guitar and BARRY BECKETT on Keyboards and the end of the song hears them ad-lib for a full minute longer than the finished single did. But then we get the real deal - an outtake that could easily have been an album track. Recorded in Muscle Shoals in October 1972 and written by PHILLIP MITCHELL, TERRY WOODFORD and OSCAR FRANCK - it features the other in-house band members for the album DAVID HOOD on Bass and ROGER HAWKINS on Drums and it's a winner. "Walking In Water Over Our Head" is a fully finished upbeat song that could easily have been recorded yesterday. Genuinely - after all these years - to hear any new material by The Staples Singers from that stunningly creative period is an out-and-out blast.

To sum up - as a voracious lover of the label, these reissues are incredibly exciting to me.
And as for The Staple Singers - a bit of a lost Soul classic in their huge cannon of work - and with this great new sound quality - recommended big time.

PS: titles in the "STAX REMASTERS" series are (all reviewed):
1. McLemore Avenue - BOOKER T. & THE M.G.'S (1970)
2. Woman To Woman - SHIRLEY BROWN (1974)
3. Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get - THE DRAMATICS (1972)
4. Be Altitude: Respect Yourself - THE STAPLE SINGERS (1972)
5. Taylored In Silk - JOHNNIE TAYLOR (1973)
6. Do The Funky Chicken - RUFUS THOMAS (1969)
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5.0 out of 5 stars loving it again, 30 May 2014
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Very well put together album that I had many years ago on vinyl and was destroyed by my kids with a pen
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Be Altitude: Respect Yourself [Stax Remasters]
Be Altitude: Respect Yourself [Stax Remasters] by The Staple Singers (Audio CD - 2011)
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