Mavis Staples - We'll Never Turn Back

Published Friday 26th October 2007
Mavis Staples - We'll Never Turn Back
Mavis Staples - We'll Never Turn Back

RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 24192-12951
LABEL: Anti 68302
RELEASE DATE: 2007-04-30
RRP: £16.99

Reviewed by Mike Rimmer

In the '60s and '70s, Mavis Staples sang on some of soul's most sublime sides. As part of the Staples Singers, her music seemed to be the soundtrack for the American civil rights movement mixing together spirituality, huge swathes of hope and a social conscience that rang true with her fans. Supported by the songwriting and guitar playing of her father Pop Staples, the group created a series of classic albums and singles and her voice was at the fore. Yet in the last 20 years Mavis has never managed to create music that has come close to her earlier material despite working with some of the biggest names including Steve Cropper, Prince and Curtis Mayfield. Her last album 'Have A Little Faith' saw the beginnings of a return to form and then came this excellent set. In guitarist Ry Cooder, she's found the perfect musical foil and someone who can understand how to help her make an artistic statement every bit as potent as her legendary releases. Drawing on her own musical tradition, she revisits civil rights songs and draws on her gospel roots and the results are stunning. Cooder creates the perfect swampy vibe and his guitar fades in an out of the musical picture adding the perfect flourishes to top each song. To be honest it's a feast of great songs and hard to pick out highlights though the story telling of "Down In Mississippi" draws on her own experiences of prejudice and celebrates how things have changed. "Eyes On The Prize" has similar earthy production whilst that great protest song "We Shall Not Be Moved" is slowed down to a defiant slow burning pace. Gospel songs like "This Little Light Of Mine", "99 And ½" and "Jesus Is On The Main Line" are all excellently executed and in such a way that an audience wider than gospel lovers will be able to connect. Staples is working in a similar fashion to how the Blind Boys have won a fresh audience in recent years. On the strength of this, there's no reason why this renaissance in her musical fortunes shouldn't continue.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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Reader Comments

Posted by wolfgang elste in lüdenscheid germany @ 22:30 on Jun 17 2007

For me this CD is a masterpiece like 'Peace in neighbourhood' and 'Father, Father' from her father Pops Staples. The music has a sound that I have heard in no other Soul, Gospel or BluesCd - it sounds very old and at the same time modern. Today there is still a lot of pain and trouble all over the world and this songs can bring encouragement and hope even if you live in the year 2007 in the middle of Europe and not in the sixties in Mississippi.

Posted by Trudy Miller in America @ 15:54 on May 4 2007

This record stirrs up to many bad memories. Mavis has lost the zest to her voice, we all gotta admit it {we still love} her. But the video shows loved ones being kicked, beat etc we dont want to go back to all that. Theres problems we face together today. fall off a horse get back on it forget the pain ride again. We want to go forward. This was ok back in the day but in all the marches on civil rights. Were was Mavis? Dont do this to us now Young people need to go forward not backwards. This stuff makes them angry at those that did not have anything to do with the problems. Playing on emotions since her voice is not all that good any more.

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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