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The Very Best of the Staple Singers (International Version Ecopac)

The Staple Singers

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Album Review

Back in 1990, when the Fantasy Records conglomerate owned the Stax imprint, they issued a 16-cut Best of the Staple Singers. Fast forward to 2007 and the label, Fantasy and all its associated labels — Riverside, Milestone, Prestige, etc — are owned by Concord. This later issue of Very Best of the Staple Singers contains four more songs than the original Stax release but unfortunately, it doesn't entirely replicate it. First the positives: the sound has been dramatically improved. The remastering job captures the group dynamics in full, from the rich harmony vocals by Cleotha, Pervis, and later Yvonne, to the wonderful lead presences of both Pops and Mavis. All of these cuts were singles, and the vast majority of them charted. The wonderful familiars are here, with "Heavy Makes You Happy, (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom)," "Be What You Are," and "I'll Take You There" among them. The different cuts, such as "Long Walk to D.C.," the Delaney Bramlett penned "The Ghetto" (from 1968 when the group first joined the label), the Al Kooper penned "Brand New Day" (from the film The Landlord), "When Will We Be Paid," "Who Took the Merry out of Christmas," Delbert McClinton's "Back Road into Town/There Is a God" and "I Got to Be Myself," do not appear on the original best-of yet are worthy and welcome additions here. The hard part is that other well-known Staples favorites, such as their version of Robbie Robertson's "The Weight," "We'll Get Over," "Oh La De Da," and the group's amazing reading of Don Covay's "This Old Town" are missing. While it is a trade-off, those serious about collecting the Staples' singles may favor this, though perhaps owning both — despite replication — may be the best notion indeed.

Biography

Formed: 1951 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Religious

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

The Staples' story goes all the way back to 1915 in Winona, Mississippi, when patriarch Roebuck "Pops" Staples entered the world. A contemporary and familiar of Charley Patton's, Roebuck quickly became adept as a solo blues guitarist, entertaining at local dances and picnics. He was also drawn to the church, and by 1937 he was singing and playing guitar with the Golden Trumpets, a spiritual group based out of Drew, Mississippi. Moving to Chicago four years later, he continued playing gospel music...
Full bio

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