- Audio CD (28 May 1991)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Stax
- ASIN: B000026EVA
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 398,708 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Be Altitude - Respect Yourself CD
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This is the album on which The Staple Singers’ consolidated their gentle folk-gospel into something altogether funkier, and delivered with enough wit and variation to make people stand up and take notice. Until then, the family quartet of Pops Staples and his kids enjoyed a reputation as an acoustic gospel group, who took their subtle harmonising into the 1960s folk scene. That’s where they acquired their penchant for powerful, universally accessible protest songs, allowing them to slot into post-Civil Rights black sensibilities without alienating the late-model hippies at the more righteous end of rock. All they needed was a great album, and after two uneventful efforts on Stax came this one: a classic.
Stax co-owner Al Bell produced it, and straight away parted company with brother Pervis Staples to bring in the middle sister, Yvonne, tightening their harmonies, and providing a clearer platform for Mavis’s super-soulful lead vocals. It created a gospel sound that you didn’t need to go to church to be moved by, defining the soul of one of the groups that defined the protest soul of that era.
Be Altitude jumps straight into solid syncopated southern funk with The World, then eases into what became the group’s theme song, Respect Yourself. It’s an almost five-minute version and, pushed on by the music behind her, Mavis works herself up into a foot-stomping testifyin’ frenzy that manages supremely angry and monumentally uplifting at the same time. Similar is their other anthem, I’ll Take You There, one of the most joyous soul songs ever written, which seems even more spirit-raising in this full length form. The Memphis sound is well-represented, with the wah-wah guitars, drawling horns, swirling organs and fat bass lines of Name the Missing Word, Who and Who Do You Think You Are?, while the country soul element is there with Are You Sure and We the People.
In every respect, this album was one of the label’s triumphs. Maybe their best set that didn’t involve Isaac Hayes, it set a modern funk agenda but never lost sight of old-time values. But actually none of that would have counted for much if the group hadn’t been so spectacularly soulful.--Lloyd Bradley
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Released May 2011 - Concord Music Group, Inc 0888072328761 (Barcode 888072328761) breaks down as follows (49:38 minutes):
1. This World
2. Respect Yourself
3. Name The Missing Word
4. I'll Take You There
5. This Old Town (People In This Town)
6. We The People
7. Are You Sure
8. Who Do You Think You Are (Jesus Christ The Superstar)
9. I'm Just Another Soldier
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "BeAltitude: 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...Read more ›
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Even more importantly, Bell began recording the Staples' backing sessions in Alabama with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section: Eddie Hinton (lead guitar), Jimmy Johnson (rhythm guitar), David Hood (bass), Barry Beckett (keyboards) and Roger Hawkins (drums). Hood's deep bass lines and Hawkins' rhythm touch anchor this album, solidified by Johnson's chords, Beckett's vamping and Hinton's inventive fills; the Memphis horns add texture and accents without ever needing to step out front to announce themselves. Produced at a time that Stax was evolving from its soul glories of the `60s to its funkier output of the early `70s, the Staples hit a third gear as they built the album's tracks, particularly the hit singles "I'll Take You There" and "Respect Yourself," from perfectly intertwined strands of soul, funk, and gospel. Also blended in to "I'll Take You There," as Rob Bowman astutely observes in the liner notes, is the reggae of the Harry J All-Stars' instrumental "The Liquidator."
The album's original ten tracks include longer versions of the singles, stretching each to nearly five minutes. You can understand why the extra vocalizing of "Respect Yourself" was trimmed for radio play, but Staples fans will treasure the full-length production. Concord's 2011 reissue adds two previously unreleased bonus tracks: the cautionary "Walking in Water Over Our Head" and an alternate take of Jeff Barry and Bobby Bloom's "Heavy Makes You Happy." The latter forgoes the horn arrangement of the original single, emphasizes the rhythm section (as did all of engineer Terry Manning's album mixes), and adds forty-three seconds to the running time. These are great additions to an album that's already the best full-length of the Staples' career, and one of the best Stax ever produced. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]