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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
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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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Dec 2011 04:01:42 GMT
Wonderful review, thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Dec 2011 22:06:21 GMT
Mark Barry says:
Thanks Miranda.

Four quid to buy this peach - talk about a bargain!
I'm hoping there's more Staples Singers to come in the next batch of "Stax Remaster" (early 2012 apparently) because the sound quality on this is 'so' good.

Regards, Mark at Reckless

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2012 15:14:16 GMT
RoBoKok says:
yes, Joe Tarantino deserves an award for his great mastering jobs!
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