staples singers (cd cover)

“My father, Pops Staples, started the group back in 1949 when he became frustrated with his present band members for showing up to rehearsal late (or not at all). He sat me and my siblings, Pervis, Cleedi and Yvonne, down on the floor and started to teach us songs. The first one we learned was “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” I never thought that that would lead to the career that we’ve had–singing for Dr. Martin Luther King, Presidents Kennedy, Carter, Clinton and Obama, winning Grammy® Awards, being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…and so much more. I still get surprised when I look in the audience at my shows and see all these young people, whole new generations, and they want to hear these songs and what I have to say. And it feels so good. I’m truly blessed.” — Mavis Staples

Stax/Concord Music Group will release the first-ever comprehensive, career-spanning overview of The Staple Singers, one of the most important American musical acts of the 20th century. Due out November 13, this limited edition 4-CD box set–titled “Faith and Grace: A Family Journey 1953-1976″ — also includes a very special bonus: the earliest known recording of the gospel, soul and R&B group, housed on a 7” vinyl record, marking the first time that this track has been available in any format since the Staples’ self-released edition of 500. The box set is available now to pre-order on Amazon in the following formats: Deluxe Box Set (4CD + 7” vinyl) and digitally.

Housed in a deluxe, old-school “45-folio” package, the accompanying book features new liner notes by Mavis Staples, James Miller, Opal Louis Nations and compilation producer Joe McEwen, as well as rarely seen photos of the family band taken over the course of their career.

The long-lost recordings embodied on the 7” record, “Faith and Grace” and “These Are They, are the earliest known recordings of The Staple Singers and were made in a friend of Pops Staples’ basement in Chicago in 1953. These have never before been commercially available in any format except the 500 or so copies the Staples pressed themselves on 78 RPM records. The box set also contains the live recording: “Medley: Too Close/I’m On My Way Home/I’m Coming Home/He’s Alright (Live).This live performance from 1960 Clarksdale, Mississippi has never before been available in its entirety.

The music of the Staple Singers–best known for their 1970s hits Respect Yourself,” I’ll Take You There,” If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me),” and Let’s Do It Again–is richly embedded into American history and culture. As James Miller writes in the liner notes:

“The Staple Singers are American originals. Like Elvis Presley in the fifties, they took the country gospel sounds of the Mississippi Delta and turned them into a brand new kind of music, a fusion of blues form and raw feeling that was sui generis. Like Bob Dylan in the sixties, they created their own kind of folk music, in part to hymn the progress of the civil rights movement in America. Like Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield and Aretha Franklin, they took the music of the black church and made that soulful sound matter to anybody with ears and an open mind in a series of exceptionally popular recordings that made them well-known to a wide audience. And afterwards, even after their belated moment of fame in the early 1970s, their principal members survived into a dignified old age, becoming venerated solo troubadours, performing vernacular American music that sounds as fresh today as it did a half-century ago…The consistency with which this family made rapturous music–as documented on this box set–becomes ever more impressive with the passage of time.”

Explaining The Staple Singers’ special dynamic, notes Miller, “The group had two primary leads: Pops, a tenor, and Mavis, a skinny girl with a thundering voice. When the Staples harmonized, their blend was high and keening, with Pops singing falsetto alongside his daughter Cleotha, a soprano, and Pervis, a high tenor like his dad, making them sound more like the Carter Family than a conventional black gospel group. Equally unusual was the instrumentation; instead of performing a capella or with keyboard accompaniment, the Staples featured the electric guitar playing of Pops. That’s the first thing you hear on their classic early recordings: finger-picked arpeggios, amplified in a wash of reverb and tremolo, anchoring the bottom of the sound. (‘Pop Staples and his nervous guitar,’ quipped rivals on the gospel circuit.)”

The box set is aptly titled Faith and Grace: A Family Journey 1953-1976 as these qualities are hallmarks of The Staple Singers. Their music remains soul-stirring and relevant–these songs bring hope in uncertain times. As always, The Staple Singers take us there.

Track listing:

Disc 1

  1. It Rained Children
  2. I Just Can’t Keep It To Myself
  3. Each Day
  4. God’s Wonderful Love
  5. If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again
  6. I’ve Got A New Home
  7. Uncloudy Day
  8. Come On Up In Glory
  9. I Know I Got Religion
  10. Swing Down Chariot (Let Me Ride)
  11. I Had A Dream
  12. Help Me Jesus
  13. Low Is The Way
  14. This May Be The Last Time [Alternate Take]
  15. So Soon
  16. I’m So Glad
  17. Pray On
  18. Good News
  19. Downward Road
  20. Don’t Drive Me Away

Disc 2

  1. Will The Circle Be Unbroken
  2. Don’t Knock
  3. Medley: Too Close/I’m On My Way Home/I’m Coming Home/He’s Alright [Live]
  4. Swing Low
  5. Calling Me
  6. Stand By Me
  7. Hammer And Nails
  8. Gloryland
  9. Hear My Call, Here
  10. Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen
  11. New-Born Soul
  12. Dying Man’s Plea
  13. Great Day
  14. There Was A Star
  15. Use What You Got
  16. Let That Liar Alone
  17. I Can’t Help From Cryin’ Sometime
  18. Blowin’ In The Wind
  19. This Land Is Your Land
  20. I Know I’ve Been Changed

Disc 3

  1. A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall
  2. Masters Of War
  3. What Are They Doing (In Heaven Today)
  4. Wish I Had Answered [Live At Newport]
  5. I’ll Fly Away
  6. Tell Him What You Want [Stapleton Singers]
  7. Be Careful Of The Stones You Throw
  8. Samson & Delilah
  9. As An Eagle Stirreth Her Nest
  10. Freedom Highway
  11. Why (Am I Treated So Bad)
  12. John Brown
  13. Waiting For My Child
  14. It’s Been A Change
  15. For What It’s Worth
  16. Let’s Get Together
  17. Crying In The Chapel [Mavis Staples With The Staple Singers]
  18. Long Walk To D.C.
  19. Got To Be Some Changes
  20. Slow Train

Disc 4

  1. I See It
  2. The Ghetto
  3. When Will We Be Paid
  4. God Bless The Children
  5. The Challenge
  6. Brand New Day [Theme From The Motion Picture The Landlord]
  7. Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)
  8. I Like The Things About You
  9. You’re Gonna Make Me Cry
  10. Respect Yourself
  11. I’ll Take You There
  12. This World
  13. I’m Just Another Soldier
  14. Are You Sure
  15. If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)
  16. Touch A Hand, Make A Friend
  17. Back Road Into Town
  18. Let’s Do It Again
  19. The Weight [The Band feat. Staple Singers]
  20. Respect Yourself [Demo]

7” track listing:

Side A

  1. Faith and Grace

Side B

  1. These Are They



Aaron Feterl │ MSO PR
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