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Pops was great at crafting succinct and catchy message songs. Even in a period

that included seminal work from Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye,

 Isaac Hayes and a host of others, The Staple Singers maintained their reputation

 

 

Staple Singers CDs

The Best of The Staple Singers  / Let's Do It Again / Freedom Highway / Pray On, My Child  /  Be Altitude: Respect Yourself  / Soul Folk in Action

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The Best of the Staple Singers, as BAM Artists

Music Commentary by Mtume ya Salaam & Kalamu ya Salaam

--from Breath of Life

 

In 1968, the Staples signed with Memphis-based Stax Records and released two albums produced by Steve Cropper and backed by Booker T. & the MG’s. In 1970, Perivs was replaced by his sister, Yvonne and, more importantly, Al Bell became the group’s producer. Bell was responsible for their greatest commercial success. Bell funkified the Staples sound. Songs such “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There” feature iconic bass riffs that by themselves are enough to identify the songs.

The Staples sound, now featuring Mavis as the lead singer, became a funky mix of contemporary Seventies sounds, gospel harmonies, jazz elements, and upful messages. All the selections in this week’s jukebox are from the Stax-period release, The Best of The Staple Singers.

Here is a wide range of the Staples’ sound. Bob Dylan’s “The Weight” is given the Stax southern soul treatment as Mavis’ smoky lead vocals carry the track. Motown’s Smokey Robinson-penned “You’ve Got To Earn It” prominently features a harmonica but also includes a jazz flute & trumpet duo interlude—amazingly, the song sounds both country and urban. Otis Redding’s “Dock Of The Bay” is distinguished by distinctive harmony singing that is far more complex than it initially sounds. Pops Staples’ heavy guitar vibrato undergirds the song, which rocks peacefully on a bed of soft strings. It is completely different from Otis’ original, but at the same time, this version sounds just right. It’s quite an accomplishment.

The pieces de resistance, however, are “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself.” Pops was great at crafting succinct and catchy message songs. Even in a period that included seminal work from Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes and a host of others, The Staple Singers maintained their reputation as one of the most popular purveyors of social commentary in song. Other artists may have been better known, but there certainly was no other group that rivaled The Staple Singers as messengers of pride and empowerment.
—Kalamu ya Salaam

The Staple Singers are what I like to think of as "honest" music. Meaning, you get what you see. They’re not coming with tricks or angles or sleight of hand. They’re serving straight-up gritty soul grooves with gospel-soaked vocals and maybe a touch of pop flavoring to allow the whole confection to go down smoothly. One thing I didn’t realize was that Pops Staples is a songwriter. I’d assumed that all of the Staples’ hits were either covers or products of in-house songwriters. Of course, all of this music is unimpeachable. It’s classic soul music and honestly, you can’t say a bad word about any of it. If these records don’t make you feel good on this pre-Christmas Sunday morning, you might want to turn in your record collection and get a new hobby. This is the real deal.
—Mtume ya Salaam

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The Best of the Staple Singers
The Staple Singers

1. Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)

2. You've Got To Earn It

3. Love Is Plentiful

4. This World

5. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

6. The Weight

7. Respect Yourself

8. We'll Get Over

9. I'll Take You There

10. Oh La De Da

11. Be What You Are

12. This Old Town (People In This Town

13. If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)

14. Touch A Hand (Make A Friend)

15. My Main Man

16. City In The Sky

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Response

I’ve always been fond of Mavis. She not only had a wonderful sultry voice, but, my god, she was beautiful, too, and they all had those well-groomed ‘fros. They, this family group, took the Word to the people and they did it looking good and fresh. What in Hip Hop compares to "I'll Take You There"--"There's no smiling faces lying to the races," a place that "nobody is crying, nobody worried." The Staple Singers took us there. We were transported to a transposed place, a spiritual incomparable in today's scratching and commodification of the worse aspects of our lives in the interest of the worse kinds of people. They were willing to carry our load. But what is today's ethic: Are you ready to be gangbanged, sucker? Where's the bling-bling, nigga?

 

Most kids these days hip-hop wise ain't talking about "Respect Yourself." And it seems little know that we can't have ancestor veneration if one does not respect oneself. "Ain't nobody gonna give a good gahoot." The world owes us nothing. "Put your hand over your mouth that will help the solution." And "you dumb enough to think" that cursing around women you don't know, will make you a big old man. We ain't got enough respect going on. And that's a truth overlooked. "If you want love, you got to earn it." Can we ever get enough of that lesson?

 

The Staple Singers were as much a part of the Movement as Trane, Shepp and other jazz artists that Baraka brought to our attention. Too little has been written to follow up on Askia Muhammad Toure’s essay “Keep on Pushing: Rhythm and Blues as a Weapon,” initially published in Liberator magazine in 1965 and later in Black Nationalism in America (1970) edited by John Bracey, Jr. and August Meier. In short, the Staple Singers too should be viewed as BAM artists, in the same way that we usually see Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin as part of the popular avant-garde. As Nikki Giovanni said on her record of the period, Truth Is On Its Way, such artists made Motown change their style as well as their tunes.  — Rudy

posted 24 December 2006

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books

 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. The Economy

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Panther Baby

A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention

By Jamal Joseph

In the 1960s he exhorted students at Columbia University to burn their college to the ground. Today he’s chair of their School of the Arts film division. Jamal Joseph’s personal odyssey—from the streets of Harlem to Riker’s Island and Leavenworth to the halls of Columbia—is as gripping as it is inspiring. Eddie Joseph was a high school honor student, slated to graduate early and begin college. But this was the late 1960s in Bronx’s black ghetto, and fifteen-year-old Eddie was introduced to the tenets of the Black Panther Party, which was just gaining a national foothold. By sixteen, his devotion to the cause landed him in prison on the infamous Rikers Island—charged with conspiracy as one of the Panther 21 in one of the most emblematic criminal cases of the sixties. When exonerated, Eddie—now called Jamal—became the youngest spokesperson and leader of the Panthers’ New York chapter. He joined the “revolutionary underground,” later landing back in prison.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 30 April 2012

 

 

 

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