Advertise with The Big Takeover
The Big Takeover Issue #93
MORE Recordings >>
Subscribe to The Big Takeover


Shop our Big Takeover store for back issues, t-shirts & CDs

Follow us on Instagram

Follow The Big Takeover

The Staple Singers – Be Altitude: Respect Yourself 50th Anniversary LP (Stax/Craft)

27 September 2022

By 1972, the Staple Singers were justly recognized as a national treasure. Lovers of inner-city Gospel music will find no act more quintessential than this Chicago-based family band. Students of the American Civil Rights movement will find this album, widely considered to be the Staples’ best fusion of Gospel fervor and pop appeal, to be a joyous component of the syllabus. Fans of soulful blues guitar can’t miss with Roebuck “Pops” Staples’ inimitable touch, and it bears repeating that Mavis Staples’ voice is touched by grace and deployed by genius. Chicago meets Memphis on this reissued Stax platter, with backing by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (who had backed hits by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and many more) and the Memphis Horns. For some people, it will be enough to say that Be Altitude includes bedrock entries “Respect Yourself” and Billboard Hot 100 #1 single “I’ll Take You There.” “Respect Yourself” features a message of self-reliance sung by Pops. The words were intended and relevant for a marginalized African-American community, and were broadly accepted elsewhere as well. “I’ll Take You There” imagines a world in which the fight for civil rights has been won. “No more smilin’ faces lyin’ to the races,” sings Mavis. Opening track “This World” was a third Top 40 single from the album, a swampy soul-rocker propelled by buoyant groove of bassist David Hood and colored by Barry Beckett’s shimmering electric piano. Mavis testifies to the power of positivity. “I can make myself a sunny tomorrow,” she sings. The effervescent “We the People” received a boost in recognition when used by Joe Biden during his 2020 presidential campaign. The song calls for racial integration and working for the betterment of the community. Pops delivers the evangelical funk of “Who Do You Think You Are? (Jesus Christ the Super Star).” The Memphis Horns punctuate the stirring and metaphorical “I’m Just Another Soldier,” which sends tribute to fallen fellow activists Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Bobby Kennedy. The reissue has been spectacularly mastered from the original stereo tapes for this lively 180-gram vinyl release by respected engineer and vinyl cutter Jeff Powell. (