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R&B - Released September 11, 2020 | Craft Recordings

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Soul - Released February 21, 2020 | Craft Recordings

The Staple Singers released their first recordings in the mid-'50s, and they were highly influential and well-respected in gospel circles a decade later, but the mainstream audience was unaware of them as they began flirting with pop music forms without making a decisive move away from their spiritual roots. In 1968, they signed with Stax Records, one of America's strongest soul labels (who also had a sideline in gospel), and at Stax they not only enjoyed their greatest commercial success but learned how to make music that pleased the mass audience while maintaining a moral and spiritual authority that quieted any suggestion of compromise. The Staple Singers cut six original albums for Stax, and Come Go with Me: The Stax Collection is a handsome box set that brings them together in refurbished and remastered form, along with a bonus disc of non-LP single sides and live tracks from the soundtrack of the movie Wattstax. Come Go with Me makes it clear the Staple Singers didn't nail their hit formula right off the bat. The title of their first Stax LP, 1968's Soul Folk in Action, affirms no one was sure just where to classify them at first. That album and 1970's We'll Get Over were both produced by Steve Cropper, and while he and his Memphis crew gave the albums a polished and soulful sound, it didn't entirely flatter the Staples despite the excellence of their vocals, and the song selection wasn't always the best (there just wasn't room for them to bring anything fresh to "Games People Play" or "[Sittin' On] The Dock of the Bay"). Despite its singularly awful title, 1971's The Staple Swingers was a major improvement. Stax co-owner Al Bell took over as producer and took them to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio to cut with their fabled house band, and the leaner, tougher grooves favored Mavis Staples' powerful, emphatic lead vocals, as well as the occasional vocals and incisive guitar work from Roebuck "Pops" Staples, her dad and the group's leader. The album gave the Staple Singers their first significant R&B hit, "Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)," and 1972's Be Altitude was even better and produced a pair of stone classics, "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There." 1973's Be What You Are and 1974's City in the Sky weren't quite as solid, but having secured their place on the pop and soul charts, the group felt free to return a bit of their churchy side into their vocals and lyrics, and their fusion of the sacred and the soulful was never more powerful, even if the records didn't cohere as well. Listeners looking for a concise introduction to the Staples' best work should pick up 1991's single-disc The Best of the Staple Singers, but Come Go with Me demonstrates how consistently rewarding and even moving their lesser work can be, and listened to in full, their Stax catalog is a soul-satisfying revelation. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Soul - Released December 6, 2019 | Craft Recordings

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Soul - Released December 6, 2019 | Craft Recordings

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Soul - Released December 6, 2019 | Craft Recordings

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Soul - Released December 6, 2019 | Craft Recordings

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Soul - Released December 6, 2019 | Craft Recordings

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Soul - Released December 6, 2019 | Craft Recordings

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Soul - Released November 15, 2019 | Craft Recordings

A slicker, sweeter, and less satisfying outing than their previous LP, Genesis, Friction did nonetheless include their biggest hit, "I'll Be the Other Woman." A little daring for the radio in that it acknowledged an adulterous affair, "I'll Be the Other Woman" was also something of a departure for the Soul Children, putting Shelbra Bennett in the spotlight as lead vocalist (J. Blackfoot had tended to have the most visible leads). Bennett was also lead singer on the less impressive single "Love Makes It Right," a small R&B hit that concludes the record. In the interim, there are lush ballads that get into icky sweetness ("What's Happening Baby") as well as some more up-tempo, funky numbers. The best of the lot is "Can't Let You Go," which smolders a bit thanks to the grainy lead vocal (presumably by J. Blackfoot) and subtle wah-wah guitar. The album was paired with 1972's Genesis on a single-disc CD reissue. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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R&B - Released December 7, 2018 | Craft Recordings

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Soul - Released October 19, 2018 | Craft Recordings

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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R&B - Released September 22, 2017 | Craft Recordings

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R&B - Released February 9, 2017 | Craft Recordings

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R&B - Released January 1, 2012 | Craft Recordings

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Disco - Released January 1, 1982 | Craft Recordings

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Disco - Released January 1, 1982 | Craft Recordings

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R&B - Released April 14, 1981 | Craft Recordings

Released by Stax in 1981, while the Staple Singers were on the 20th Century label, This Time Around is based on unreleased material from '70s sessions. Extensive overdubbing was done for the sake of sounding up to date, but almost all of the new elements -- including atmospheric synthesizer flourishes, synthetic handclaps, heavy-ish art-rock guitar, dehumanizing treatments to the vocals -- does not suit the material. The set is not without some high points. "Trippin' on Your Love," somewhere between Sylvia's "Pillow Talk" and something by Ronnie McNeir -- one of two songs written by Prince Phillip Mitchell -- grooves sweetly. "If It Wasn't for a Woman," presumably handled with little or no additional touches, is a strong ballad. Much of what remains had been shelved for good reason, likely because it couldn't make the cut for excellent albums like The Staple Swingers and Be What You Are. This is definitely for serious Staples fans only. The 2013 reissue features detailed liner notes. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Disco - Released January 1, 1981 | Craft Recordings

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Disco - Released January 1, 1981 | Craft Recordings

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Disco - Released January 1, 1980 | Craft Recordings

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