The legacy of Chicago’s own Staple Singers was solidified when the quartet moved to Stax Records and became the label’s biggest act at the time, courtesy of some of the best funk of the early 1970s. A new reissue from Ace extends that legacy, with the release of 1981 outtakes compilation This Time Around, available on CD for the first time.
After gospel-tinged stints on Vee-Jay, Epic and other labels throughout the ’60s, the Staple Singers – Roebuck “Pops” Staples and his children Cleotha, Pervis, Yvonne (who replaced Pervis in 1971) and Mavis – signed to the legendary Stax label in 1968, releasing a pair of LPs with Booker T & The MG’s ably backing up the group. But it was 1971’s The Staple Swingers that turned the Staples’ fortunes, in which they found themselves under the guidance of longtime Stax producers Al Bell and engineer Terry Manning and decamping to the famed Muscle Shoals. At Muscle Shoals they pursued a tighter funk direction, ultimately striking gold with their second collaboration with Bell and Manning. Be Altitude-Respect Yourself, released in 1972, yielded two smash hits in “Respect Yourself” (No. 12 pop, No. 2 R&B) and “I’ll Take You There,” a No. 1 single on both pop and R&B charts.
By 1981, the Staples had moved from the bankrupt Stax to Curtom and then Warner Bros. Records, attaining only moderate interest when they appeared in The Band’s The Last Waltz. (They covered “The Weight” on their first Stax LP, and joined the group both in concert and later in studio to re-record the song. The latter version was used in the final film.) But a small trove of half-finished rarities from sessions between 1970 and 1972 lay in wait for fans to discover. Ultimately, it was decided that instrumentalist Herb Jimmerson, one-half of the Fantasy Records disco act Paradise Express, would complete the tracks. (By this point, Fantasy distributed the Stax catalogue, both old and new; the Stax name would primarily be reissue-based from this point forward. As for Paradise Express? A cover of Paul Jabara’s “Dance” was a chart hit, while “Star in My Life” was buoyed by background vocals courtesy of Two Tons O’ Fun, later known as The Weather Girls.)
Jimmerson’s arrangements, recorded nearly a decade after the fact, were modern but not terribly distracting, and This Time Around remains an intriguing curio in the legacy of The Staple Singers, which still looms large to this day. With its first release on CD courtesy of Ace Records, fans can finally rediscover this lost period in the group’s history.
This Time Around is available today, August 20, and can be ordered after the jump.
This Time Around (originally released as Stax LP MPS-8511, 1981 – reissued Stax/Ace CDSXE139 (U.K.), 2013)
- Live In Love
- This Time Around
- Trippin’ on Your Love
- A Child’s Life
- I Got to Be Myself
- People Come Out of Your Shell
- When It Rains It Pours
- If It Wasn’t for a Woman