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5.0 out of 5 stars "...I'll Take You There..." - Ultimate Staple Singers: A Family Affair 1955-1984 by THE STAPLE SINGERS (2004 2CD Remasters), 19 Dec. 2010
This review is from: The Ultimate Staple Singers: a Family Affair 1955-1984 (Audio CD)
Like most people I came across the Staple Singers through their fabulous run of Stax and Curtom sides in the Seventies (although their career stretched back to Gospel roots in the Fifties). This truly impressive double CD by Ace Records of the UK (using their Kent Soul logo) is a thorough and deeply satisfying retro for one of the most underrated Soul acts of all time.

UK released September 2004 - Ace/Kent Soul CDKEN2 240 (Barcode 02966722402) offers up 44 tracks across 2 CDs covering 1955 to 1984 - with 4 previously unreleased thrown in. Disc 1 roughly deals with 1955 up to 1971 while Disc 2 covers everything after that. Here's a breakdown...

DISC 1: (76:07 minutes)
1. Hammer And Nails
2. Nobody's Fault But Mine
3. Too Close
4. Uncloudy Day
5. Won't You Sit Down (Sit Down Servant)
6. I Wish I Had Answered
7. A Hard Rain's Gonna Fail
8. Swing Low
9. This May Be The Last Time
10. For What It's Worth
11. Be Careful Of The Stones You Throw
12. Why (Am I Treated So Bad)
13. It's Been A Change
14. Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Tracks 1 to 14 feature their Gospel years with the Riverside, Vanguard and Epic labels.

15. The Ghetto
16. Long Walk To DC
17. God Bless The Children
18. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
19. The Gardener
20. When Will We Be Paid For The Work We Did
21. Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas
22. John Henry [Pops Staples]
23. You're Gonna Make Me Cry
24. Solon Bushi
Tracks 15 to 24 touch on the Stax issues from 1968 to 1971

DISC 2: (78:14 minutes)
1. I Have Learned To Do Without [Mavis Staples]
2. Respect Yourself
3. Tryin' Times [Pops Staples]
4. Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha Na Boom Boom)
5. I'll Take You There
6. You've Got To Earn It
7. The Only Time You Ever Say You Love me [Mavis Staples]
8. Oh La De Da
9. If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)
10. City In The Sky
11. I Got To Be Myself
12. Touch A Hand, Make A Friend
13. Trippin' On Your Love
14. Let's Do It Again
15. New Orleans
16. Love Me, Love Me, Love Me
17. I Honestly Love You
18. Slippery People
19. H-A-T-E (Don't Love Here Any More)

Of the 20 singles they charted between 1971 and 1985 on the US Billboard R&B charts (group and solo) - an impressive 14 are here (on Disc 2) - they are "Heavy Make You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)" (1971), "You've Got To Earn It" (1971), "Respect Yourself" (1971), "I'll Take You There" (1972), "This World" (1972), "Oh La De Da" (1972), "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)" (1973), "Touch A Hand, Make A Friend" (1973), "City In The Sky" (1974), "Let's Do It Again" (1975), "New Orleans" (1976), "Love Me, Love Me, Love Me" (1976) and "Slippery People" (1984). There's also the solo Mavis Staples torch ballad single "I Have Learned To Do Without You" from 1970.

What is even more shocking than the classiness of the released material (which still manages to raise a smile to this day) is the quality of the unreleased stuff - how have these gems remained in the can until now? First up on Disc 1 is the Traditional song "John Henry" given a harmonica/guitar driven John Lee Hooker boogie - it's nearest approximation is "Keep On Chooglin' by Creedence Clearwater Revival - fabulous stuff. Then there's "Tryin' Times" on Disc 2 - also by POPS STAPLES (an unreleased alternate version of Stax 0064). It was co-written by Donny Hathaway and Leroy Hutson and first recorded by Roberta Flack in 1969 on her "First Take" album (Donny did is own version of "Everything Is Everything in 1971). Pops goes with the slower Flack interpretation and it's a socially-aware bluesy winner. I've played both tracks many times on the shuffle play in the record shop and they've always elicited a customer response. Then on Disc 2 are "The Only Time You Ever Say You Love Me" by MAVIS STAPLES (a gorgeous slow ballad) and a version of "Oh La De Da" without the fake audience participation that appeared on the Stax 0156 single. Both of these are superb too. Not a lot of unreleased stuff I know, but man the quality is good...

The mastering has been handled by DUNCAN COWELL at Sound Mastering (it's uniformly excellent throughout - especially on the Fifties and Sixties material), while the chunky 28-page colour booklet is jammed with pictured 45's and adverts and has detailed and informative liner notes by noted Soul writer and aficionado TONY ROUNCE. Between them - they've handled large numbers of Ace and Edsel soul reissues throughout the 2000's - see a TAG above for each giving pictorial displays of their work...

I love The Staples Singers - "I'll Take You There" (lyrics above), "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)" and the wonderful number one R'n'B hit "Let's Do It Again" - every song imbibed with their lifelong creed of positive action, love and racial harmony - and music as a healer. Quite possibly one of the best Kent-Soul reissues for me - a hugely impressive listen from start to finish and it stonking great audio quality...

"The Ultimate Staples Singers - A Family Affair 1955-1984" is a fantastic overview of their extraordinary career - now onwards to that long-overdue box set.

PS: see also reviews for the following - "Be Altitude: Respect Yourself" (1972 album on Stax) now 2011 reissued and remastered with bonus tracks as part of the "Stax Remasters" series, "We'll Get Over" and the compilation "This Time Around" from 1981 with the fabulous "Trippin' On Your Love"
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Dec 2010 16:02:59 GMT
A. R. Durham says:
Great review - I shall be buying asap.
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Mark Barry "Mark Barry"
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Location: London

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