Staple Singers Celebrated On New ‘Come Go With Me’ Vinyl Box Set
This celebration of one of the greatest gospel and soul groups in music history presents all of their Stax studio albums and a seventh disc of rarities.
Gospel-soul pioneers the Staple Singers will have their storied Stax years commemorated with the 6 December release by Craft Recordings of the 7LP vinyl box set Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection.
This celebration of one of the greatest gospel and soul groups in music history presents all of the studio albums that the family act released on Stax Records, during their 1968–1974 tenure there. It includes their signature crossover smash hits such as ‘I’ll Take You There,’ ‘Respect Yourself” and ‘If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me).’
The six studio sets in the collection were cut from the original analog masters by Jeff Powell at Take Out Vinyl. The seventh disc gathers together rarities, non-album singles and several live recordings from the group’s appearance at the famous 1972 Wattstax music festival. The albums are cut on heavyweight 180 gram vinyl, pressed at Memphis Record Pressing.
The box set, housed in a slipcase, also includes a deluxe booklet with archive photos and new liner notes written by American music specialist and curator Levon Williams (formerly of the Stax Museum and the National Museum of African American Music), and folklorist, ethnomusicologist and writer Dr. Langston Wilkins.
Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection will also be released digitally, and the six original studio albums will be available in hi-res 24-bit/192 kHz and 24-bit/96 kHz formats for the first time.
By 1968 and their arrival at Stax, the quartet of patriarch Roebuck “Pops” Staples and daughters Cleotha and Mavis, and son Pervis (later replaced by his sister Yvonne) had long since “crossed over” from the gospel circuit of their origins to a place in the counterculture and folk scenes. They were sharing bills with such rock frontrunners as Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead, and at the same time they and their songs had become formidable voices in the Civil Rights movement.
Their first album for Stax, Soul Folk In Action, was recorded in autumn 1968 with producer Steve Cropper and songwriter Homer Banks. The social and political turmoil informed many of the message songs on the set, including ‘Long Walk To D.C.’ and ‘The Ghetto.’ Williams and Wilkins write that both of these songs “truly tapped into the experiences and emotions of Black America at the close of the ’60s.
“The former is a tribute to the 1963 March on Washington told from the perspective of a poor yet hopeful African American person willing to use their last dimes to make it to the rally…conversely, the sombre and haunting ‘The Ghetto’ takes listeners deep into the isolation and despair of inner-city life.” Soul Folk In Action also included the Staples’ covers of The Band’s ‘The Weight’ and a tribute version of Otis Redding’s ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.’
The Staple Singers teamed with Cropper again for 1970’s We’ll Get Over, which featured the standout message song ‘When Will We Be Paid’ and readings of Sly & the Family Stone’s ‘Everyday People’ and Gladys Knight & the Pips’ ‘The End of the Road.’ But for all of their acclaim, commercial success didn’t accrue for either album, at which point Stax co-president Al Bell, who had signed the group to the company, took over as producer.
“As a longtime DJ,” write Williams and Wilkins, “Bell’s ear for what moves black listeners, both literally and metaphorically, had been keenly crafted over several years. Bell hosted shows that had both sacred and secular followings and had amassed a wealth of experience from watching, noting and deeply understanding the impact music has on varied audiences. His ear was essentially priceless.”
The first result was 1971’s The Staple Swingers, which included the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (also known as the Swampers) and became their first charting record, with a No. 9 peak on Billboard’s top R&B albums. Its new, funkier sound was typified by ‘Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)’ and the Smokey Robinson cover ‘You’ve Got to Earn It.’
The same team reconvened for 1972’s Be Altitude: Respect Yourself, which transformed the Staple Singers into mainstream stars. Reaching No. 19 on the Billboard all-genre chart, it contained their first No. 1 hit, the irresistible ‘I’ll Take You There’ and the equally anthemic ‘Respect Yourself,’ which resonated not only with African Americans but with many women across the country as they strove for equal opportunities.
1973’s Be What You Are had another top ten signature, ‘If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me),’ as well as the popular ‘Touch a Hand, Make a Friend’ and ‘Love Comes in All Colours.’ The group’s last Stax LP, 1974’s City In The Sky, offered the politically-charged ‘Washington We’re Watching You,’ ‘Back Road into Town’ and a return to their gospel roots in ‘Who Made the Man.’
The seventh disc in the set contains the aforementioned Wattstax concert highlights as well as such b-sides as ‘Stay With Us,’ non-album singles including ‘Oh La De Da’ and rarities like ‘Walking in Water Over Our Head’ and ‘Trippin’ on Your Love.’ Post-Stax, the Staple Singers continued to tour and record for the rest of the 1970s and early 1980s, with a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1999 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection is released on 6 December. Scroll down for the full tracklisting, and pre-order it here.
Soul Folk In Action
A1. We’ve Got to Get Ourselves Together
A2. (Sittin’ On) the Dock Of the Bay
A3. Top Of the Mountain
A4. Slow Train
A5. The Weight
B1. Long Walk to D.C.
B2. Got to Be Some Changes Made
B3. The Ghetto
B4. People, My People
B5. I See It
B6. This Year
We’ll Get Over
A1. We’ll Get Over
A2. Give a Damn
A3. Everyday People
A5. The End of Our Road
A6. Tend to Your Own Business
A7. Solon Bushi (Japanese Folk Song)
B1. The Challenge
B2. God Bless The Children
B3. Games People Play
B4. A Wednesday in Your Garden
B5. The Gardener
B6. When Will We Be Paid
The Staple Swingers
A1. This Is a Perfect World
A2. What’s Your Thing
A3. You’ve Got to Earn It
A4. You’re Gonna Make Me Cry
A5. Little Boy
A6. How Do You Move a Mountain
B2. I’m a Lover
B3. Love Is Plentiful
B4. Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)
B5. I Like the Things About You
B6. Give a Hand – Take a Hand
Be Altitude: Respect Yourself
A1. This World
A2. Respect Yourself
A3. Name the Missing Word
A4. I’ll Take You There
A5. This Old Town (People in This Town)
B1. We the People
B2. Are You Sure
B3. Who Do You Think You Are? (Jesus Christ the Super Star)
B4. I’m Just Another Soldier
Be What You Are
A1. Be What You Are
A2. If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me)
A3. Medley: Love Comes in All Colors/Tellin’ Lies
A4. Touch A Hand, Make a Friend
A5. Drown Yourself
B1. I Ain’t Raisin’ No Sand
B2. Grandma’s Hands
B3. Bridges Instead Of Walls
B4. I’m on Your Side
B5. That’s What Friends Are For
City in the Sky
A1. Back Road Into Town
A2. City in the Sky
A3. Washington We’re Watching You
A4. Something Ain’t Right
A5. Today Was Tomorrow Yesterday
B1. My Main Man
B2. There Is A God
B3. Blood Pressure
B4. If It Ain’t One Thing It’s Another
B5. Who Made The Man
B6. Getting Too Big for Your Britches
Bonus Disc: Singles, Live & More
A1. Stay With Us
A2. Brand New Day (Theme from The Landlord)
A3. Walking in Water Over Your Head
A4. Oh La De Da
A5. I Got to Be Myself
A6. Trippin’ on Your Love
B1. Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom) (Live at Wattstax)
B2. Are You Sure (Live at Wattstax)
B3. I Like the Things About You (Live at Wattstax)
B4. Respect Yourself (Live at Wattstax)
B5. I’ll Take You There (Live at Wattstax)