Finally! For far too long, mega-talent soul singer Candi Staton had been lacking a comprehensive collection of her prime Southern R&B material from her glory years, 1969-1973. While it's true that Staton's chart success continued in the disco era with "Young Hearts Run Free," from 1975, that music is in a different universe from her Muscle Shoals period, when she recorded for Fame and other labels. This compilation contains 26 tracks form those hallowed years, when Staton's deep soul tomes rang up no less than 12 consecutive Billboard R&B hits, a pair of Grammy nominations, and a gold album. Like Aretha Franklin, Linda Jones, and Otis Redding, Staton's voice is the sound of emotion being ripped from the human heart and offered, bleeding and broken, pleading and yearning, to the listener. Highly recommended.
The successful self-titled reissue of Fame-era material released in early 2004 allowed Candi Staton to make this, her first secular album in several years. Where 1999's Outside In was a way to take advantage of her unplanned return to the clubs – a couple singles released during the '90s used a vocal she recorded for a documentary about a man's struggle with life-threatening obesity – His Hands is 100 percent Southern soul. Staton involves several family members and longtime associates, including son Marcus Williams (a seasoned drummer who has played with her for years), daughter Cassandra Hightower, sister Maggie Staton Peebles, and Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section organist Barry Beckett. It might be surprising to see that Lambchop's Mark Nevers produced the session, and that Lambchop ally Lloyd Barry arranged the horns, but both men have done extensive work with Staton's peers in the gospel world.
A reissue of Staton's 1981 album for Joe and Sylvia Robinson's Sugar Hill Records label, which specialized in rap music at the time. The album was a reunion with "Young Hearts" producer Dave Crawford. A measly seven songs, more than half geared toward the dance floor, such as "Love and Be Free" and "In the Still of the Night" – the latter shouldn't be confused with the song by the Five Satins. The set features a nice uptempo pop song of marital reaffirmation in "Count On Me" and a sensuous ballad written by Deniece Williams, "Hurry Sundown." Staton even tries a little rap on the tail end of "The Sunshine of Our Love" and gives Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" a nice, poppish dance workout.
With Kent's Songwriter Series well established as a regular feature of the Ace catalogue, they felt it was time to salute more great tunesmiths whose success as writers has been largely confined to the soul/R&B market. Few are more deserving than Phillip Mitchell a cult hero to many soul fans as a writer and a singer, and a man whose catalogue of songs is as consistently good as it is prolific. His songs have been recorded by some of the biggest names in soul particularly during the 1970s, when his name appeared under the title of many high-profile 45s. A quick perusal of the artists featured here will demonstrate how highly Phillip's songs were rated by his peers. It was not easy to whittle the mountain of great versions of Mitchell songs down to a representative 23 and there s plenty of scope for a follow up if this one sells as well as Kent expect. In-depth annotation, copious illustrations and a value-for-money, near 80 minutes worth of music will make this a must for every serious soul enthusiast.
The magnificent dancing collection for a big amicable party. Merry Christmas!