Monday, June 21, 2010


Earlier this year, I wrote about Wilco's Jeff Tweedy producing the upcoming album by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Mavis Staples. It's one of the records I'm most excited about. 

Mavis has been singing since 1950 - back then, she was in the family band, The Staple Singers. Their big hits were "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There." She's also been making solo records since 1969.  A couple of years ago, she signed to Anti- Records, the label owned by punk label Epitaph. Anti- has also put out albums by Tom Waits, Solomon Burke, Bettye Lavette, Merle Haggard and Joe Strummer.  It's probably one of the coolest record labels of all time. Needless to say, they let artists do their thing, and don't try and make them trendy or contemporary.  The results are always great. Teaming Mavis with Jeff Tweedy was especially inspired. A recent press release (announcing the 9/14 release date and the title, You Are Not Alone) contains this Tweedy quote:

"I have almost everything she's ever recorded, and I dug back through very thoroughly when I was given this job to do.  I thought that if I refreshed myself about where she's been, it would help her figure out where she wanted to go. I wanted to be sure that we were making a record that she really wanted to make."  He wrote the title track for her.  The press release says that the song could apply to anyone - a lover, a sibling, a friend - but Mavis got teary eyed singing it, she had her father, Pops Staples, in mind when she sang it. 

So it sounds like it is going to be a great album, hopefully it will get a lot of attention for Mavis. That said, the album will have a hard time living up to her last one, 2006's We'll Never Turn Back, produced by Ry Cooder.  That is a classic which you should check out, and I also highly recommend 2008's Live: Hope At The Hideout.

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