Reviewed by Phil Thomson
You have family patriarch Roebuck 'Pops' Staples to thank. Along with his daughter Mavis and her siblings, Cleo, Yvonne and Pervis, this family is probably more responsible than any other collective sound for establishing the unique, Chicago-based rhythm and blues which hallmarked 1950s US gospel - the Staples Singers even rising to become the 'spiritual and musical voices of the Civil Rights Movement'. Along the way, Mavis found time to become a close friend of Martin Luther King Jnr, enjoy a dalliance with Bob Dylan and, in the early '70s, share in a string of top 40 hits, some in the company of Booker T and the MGs. Continuing the legacy in her own name, we have here a positive romp through (quite clearly) personal favourites, delivered with as much stridency and conviction as ever. There's very little of the distinctive, majestic, soaring Staples Singers sophistication; this time it's raw and personal. At 71 years old, her flame is undimmed, her power undiminished, her timing immaculate. She growls and pouts her way through 13 eclectic, crazily arranged tracks in a voice which pretty much defies description. "Creep Along Moses", "Last Train" and "Wrote A Song For Everyone" probably edge ahead, but in all honesty, this is as good as it gets. That and the fact that, rather surprisingly, it is produced by Wilco man Jeff Tweedy. Now you know. All you can say is she believes every word of it. Prepare for a mugging.
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