Unlock Your Mind
Omnivore Recordings/Warner Records
The American musical treasure, The Staples Singers a.k.a. The Staples, are Lifetime Grammy Award recipients and inductees in both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and The Gospel Hall of Fame. Roebuck “Pops” Staples founded the folk/gospel group with his children Cleo, Pervis (who left the group in 1969), Mavis, and Yvonne. Their debut recording was 1959’s “Uncloudy Day” on Vee-Jay Records. They had a hit single with Stephen Stills’ “For What It’s Worth” the title track from their 1967 Epic Records album. Between 1971 and 1974 they recorded four albums for Stax Records and had their most successful hits “Respect Yourself”, “I’ll Take You There” and “If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me)”. Stax entered bankruptcy in 1975 and closed the following year. The Staples Singers signed a new contract with Warner Brothers Records.
Omnivore Recordings is re-issuing the four Warner Brothers albums released from 1975 through 1978. Included are the 1975 Curtis Mayfield produced soundtrack to the movie “Let’s Do It Again” starring Sidney Poitier; the title track written by Mayfield reached #1 on the US chart. Also re-issued were 1976’s “Pass It On” also produced by Mayfield; 1977’s “Family Tree” produced by Chicago soul giant Eugene Record, and 1978’s “Unlock Your Mind” produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett. On the later the Staples returned to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where they had crafted their most successful hits and it is the most memorable of the four releases.
On the “Unlock Your Mind” sessions the Staples were accompanied by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section of David Hood, bass; and Roger Hawkins, drums. Additional percussion was played by Tom Roady. The lead guitarist was Pete Carr, while the rhythm guitarists were Jimmy Johnson and Eddie Hinton. The Muscle Shoals Horns included Harrison Calloway and Lloyd Barry, trumpets; Harvey Thompson, tenor saxophone; Ronnie Eades, baritone saxophone; Charlie Rose, trombone; and Anthony Parson, flute.
The Staples open with the funky “Chica Boom” first recorded by songwriters Jimmy and Vella Cameron in 1972. This diverse collection of songs also includes the pop crossover cover “Showdown” written by Jeff Lynne and a 1974 hit for The Electric Light Orchestra; a country styled remake of The Ward Singers 1948 recording “Handwriting On The Wall” written by Nadine Hopson; the title track “Unlock Your Mind” which became the Staples biggest hit since the Stax years, and “I Want You To Dance”, both from the songwriting team of Jesse Roe and Tobias Coe; the soulful “Love Being Your Fool” written by Charlie Whitehead and Jerry Williams Jr. and first recorded by Whitehead in 1974; “Leave It All Up To Love” written by Malcolm Anthony and William Bell; a cover of Junior Parker’s 1953 R & B classic “Mystery Train”; and two songs from the R & B and gospel singer Paul Kelly, “Don’t Burn Me” and the fabulous closer “God Can” with Mavis singing the first several verses.
“Unlock Your Mind” was the highlight of The Staples’ years with Warner Brothers Records and reached the R & B album charts. Check out these June re-issues from Omnivore Recordings.