Spin #17 : Mavis Staples : Self-titled
Updated: Jul 1, 2022
Artist/s on album: Mavis Staples (Lead vocals), Isaac Hayes (Organ), James Alexander (Bass), Al Jackson Jnr (Drums), Edward Hinton (Guitar), Steve Cropper (Arrangements and Guitar), Barry Beckett (Keyboards), Marvell Thomas (Piano) plus additional artists
Mavis Staples : Self-Titled Year Released : 1969 original release (this version 2018) Produced by Steve Cropper Label: Volt (division of Stax Label) - Vinyl Me Please! record of the month release Price Range: $55AUD+ Speed: 33 1/3RPM Album Before : N/A (this was her debut) Album After : Only for the Lonely (1970) Further Listening : Patrice Rushen - Posh (1980) LP : 1 x LP with a 'Tiger Eye' colour (orange/brown/black) Mood for enjoying: I have put this record for some nice background music whilst having a nice drink and BBQ with family. It is also a nice album to bop along with our children as they really bust a move. Track Listing:
LP Side A
Until I Met You - 2:48
Sweet Things You Do - 2:38
The Choking Kind - 3:24
You're Driving Me (To The Arms Of A Stranger) - 3:23
A House Is Not A Home - 4:27
Side B Security - 2:47
Son Of A Preacher Man - 2:17
Pick Up The Pieces - 3:06
Chained - 2:50
Good To Me - 3:15
You Send Me - 2:56
What's in the Sleeve ? 1 x 180gram weighted LP , Tip-on single style jacket which has foil stamped 'Vinyl, Me Please. Essentials' on the back of the jacket. Additional artwork added
"Ohhhhhhh, I'm not meant to live alone. Turn this house into a home. When I climb the stairs and turn the key. Darling, please be there still in love with me" ~ A House Is Not A Home - Side A
Welcome to Spin #17 - Mavis Staples : Self-titled
It's that time of the week again and good to have you back for our #17 Spin - 'Mavis Staples' self-titled debut from 1969. Special shout out to the Vinyl, Me Please community who have broadened my taste in music immensely over the years. I had such an enjoyable time last week with the genre of Soul that I decided to hit you with a double up. This week choosing the exceptional 'Mavis Staples' debut album on special Tiger Eye coloured wax.
A lot of people keep asking me, "When are you going to spin this and when are you going to spin that?". My answer is, please be patient as there is so much music out there and some weeks you will gravitate towards more than others. I can promise you that next week won't be a Soul record........probably. It's a genre that can make you feel good and I have chosen to listen to this one on the loungeroom set up - Sherwood turntable / receiver and my Sennheiser headphones. I've listened to this one in the sun room and the loungeroom across the 4 x bookshelf speakers but I haven't listened to it through headphones. It's getting late and I want to be able to turn this one up loud without waking up the family.
Drop the Needle (of course means place the stylus nicely on your wax):
The quality of this record sleeve/jacket is noticeable and the overall product was worthy of the subscription at the time. I haven't researched this record a lot before this spin, but I believe that the tracks are all covers which were selected to showcase her talents after the success of 'The Staple Singers'. One thing you have to confirm when you plug in your headphones is to select the speakers through the receiver and choose the off function. Otherwise you will be sitting there like a goose wearing headphones with no noise and waking up the whole house. No, this did not happen to me, but I wanted to stop others from making this mistake. I've placed the very nice looking 'Tiger Eye' coloured record on the turntable and checked that this plays at 33 1/3 rpm before lifting the stylus and dropping it on the outer groove.
The brown/orange and black swirled record starts to spin and the sound of the first track,. 'Until I Met You' surrounds my ears. I like the guitar intro and the commanding bassline throughout this song which makes it so inviting when Staples starts to sing. This is a very happy and uplifting song about new and profound love. Sadly there are no lyrics included on this pressing and difficult to find a lot of these lyrics online. This record has a big band feel and easily pleases the whole family with the high energy sound. The lyrics of ,"I found out that love is all around..." ends the song and leads into the country sounding intro of 'Sweet Things You Do".
Another issue I have with this album is there are quite a few musicians that play bass but sadly I couldn't find who was playing on each song. It could have used an insert with lyrics and performers per song to really establish this repress as a must have. The production of the music however is unquestionably good and worthy of spending the money on this one. I didn't really know of Mavis Staples before hearing this record, but in allowing VMP to curate on a monthly basis, I was thankful for their recommendation. Within the song, 'Sweet Things You Do' , Staples is stating that she can't really stay mad at someone because there is enough good in them to look beyond the bad. I like the strings used on the intro, that provides a country / soul style song all rolled into one enjoyable listen. Staples sings "But honey what you've got, ain't nobody got it better than you", reminding the partner of her good qualities too. I have put this record on a few times to work around the house and find our 10 month old daughter usually bopping along as she does and laughing her cheeky laugh.
Song number three on Side A is the strong number, 'The Choking Kind' which makes you want to strut as you walk down the street like you are in a commercial for jeans or something. You will know what I mean once this one starts if you don't believe me. Once again, the bass line is king and I've noticed that the backing vocalists on the album have not been named also. This song is about someone's love being too strong and consuming - causing them to 'choke'. It sounds like a happy song with the tempo but the theme and lyrics are quite confronting if you have ever been in a one sided relationship - "I gave you my heart, you wanted my mind, yes you did".
In contrast, the next song is talking about not giving enough attention in 'You're Driving Me (To The Arms Of A Stranger)', "You better listen boy!" Staples is reminding her partner (or the listeners partner) that you need to give her some time and appreciation otherwise she will leave. The names that stands out for me on this album is Isaac Hayes who plays the organ and the production of Steve Cropper. Are there any other musicians on this album that stand out for you? I really enjoyed the funky undertones on this song and will have to choose a 'Funk' genre soon as a future Spin.
The last song on Side A is the cover of Burt Bacharach's , 'A House Is Not A Home' This song offers so much as it is slow, sad, hurting but optimistic and passionate and tries to make things better. "A room is still a room, even when there's nothing there but gloom". A song of wanting and longing and repair which concludes Side A. The piano work by Marvell Thomas is eloquent and suited to the mood of this track as Staples pours her heart out. "Darlin' have a heart, don't let one mistake keep us apart". The tonearm hits the dead wax and I make sure to lift and press the stop button. Its now time to flip the LP over and start playing Side B.
Horns come through the headphones loudly and hit my ears on the start of Side B with the song, 'Security'. The mood is lifted instantly and this song provides a lot of energy again after the softer end of Side A, with this Otis Redding classic. The lyrics of "I don't want no money, I don't want no fame...give me some security" is about someone being content with the love and support of her partner rather than the glitz and glamour that fame brings (at least within the song anyway). It's a nice start that leads into the well known second song on Side B.
'Son Of A Preacher Man' was originally written with Aretha Franklin in mind but was offered to someone else first instead. That someone was Dusty Springfield and she made it into a big song and one that I knew before hearing Staples version. I know that the Springfield version was released in 1968 and also the Aretha Franklin version was recorded in the same year as this record. Staples does a nice cover of this song but is it as strong as the other versions? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
'Pick Up The Pieces' is the next song and once again lifts the tempo after the softer song before. The musicianship on this song mixes well with the vocals of Staples and backing vocalists. Staples is reminding her lover that, "I don't wanna lose you baby. We keep acting like little children". This song makes me think of another Redding classic in the form of the Tom Jones cover of 'Try a Little Tenderness'. It really links both songs for me when they both sing, "Gotta, Gotta" (particularly at the end of the Jones song). Let me know if it has the same effect on you whilst listening to this song (check out Tom Jones here).
If you are looking for a hip shaker, then look no further than the next song - 'Chained'. The musicians start of by playing off each other, playfully duelling as Staples stands in the middle taking the focus once she starts singing, "Seems like yesterday you were in my arms and in a special way, you touched my heart with all your charms". I will have to look further into her discography and see if any other records are worth adding to the R'nR collection. The song fades out and the dead wax fills the headphones as I await the next song on Side B.
The second last song of the album is the wonderfully paced, 'Good To Me'. I like this song and probably favourite on the album for the lyrics and guitar work. It's a very relaxing song and that's what we are all about here at R'nR With Rylo. Staples has such a strong voice on this song and showcases it well when she sings, "I've been loving you, 10 long years and if it takes 40 more, hunny, I will try". ( I think that's the lyrics but I noticed it was different to the original lyrics).
I think the ending of both sides have been chosen well, but the end of the record, with 'You Send Me', leaves us as listeners with a happier feeling than Side A did. Staples is doing a superb job in covering Sam Cooke's song from 1957 here and it has a nice build towards the finale. "Now I find myself wanting, you to marry me, marry me and take me home". I read a review on this album that called it lacklustre and I would have to disagree with that person as I think Mavis Staples has done a great job, particularly for a debut. The record ends and I let it spin in the dead wax for a while to appreciate what I just listened too before taking it off the turntable.
Our two week escape into modern and vintage Soul records has come to an end and we hope that you took the time to recuperate after a busy week. Remember that you need some 'you' time each week, whether that is reading a book, painting or enjoying our Spins on a weekly basis. Please get on our social pages and give us a like or get involved in the mid-week sneak peek.
Until our next Spin, be Kind to your self and be Kind to your Wax!