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Be Altitude: Respect Yourself

by: The Staple Singers

Album Artwork

(Concord Music Group)

Originally released in 1972, Be Altitude: Respect Yourself finds this Staple Singers album operating between gospel and secular music. Be Altitude: Respect Yourself captures the Staple Singers at their zenith. Rob Bowman, Grammy Award winning author of Soulsville U.S.A: The Story of Stax Records, wrote in the reissue liner notes about this inimitable recording:

"Ultimately, when I stop to think about the Staple Singers, a number of things stick in my mind; Mavis's soul enrapturing rhythmic, timbral, and melodic vocal gymnastics, Pops's way-back-in-the-woods, heavily reverbed old-time blues guitar playing and calm, dignified vocal style andf the richly textured harmonies of Cleotha and Yvonne. Collectively that is the sound of a group that, over the course of a near half-century career, has embodied the hopes, aspirations, world view, and musical aesthetics of several generations of African-Americans in a way that has crossed racial, generational, class, gender and genre lines..."

This album was recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. The Staple Singers back-up band on this recording included Eddie Hinton (lead guitar), Jimmy Johnson (rhythm guitar), David Hood (bass), Berry Beckett (keyboards) and Roger Hawkins (drums). During this time Hood and Hawkins just returned from a run with the British band Traffic's Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory tour. Traffic shared a label with Bob Marley & The Wailers. David Hood mentioned how Marley's album Catch A Fire influenced the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section during the recording of Be Altitude: Respect Yourself: "We kept hearing that. I thought, 'Wow, this is the greatest, wildest music I've ever heard." The group conjured a fusion of soul-reggae in the grooves of these Respect Yourself songs.

Be Altitude: Respect Yourself earned more hits than any other Staple Singers release. "I'll Take You There" reached #1 on the R & B charts. "Respect Yourself" and "This World" broke the Top 20. Every song on this collection promotes positivity. The jubilant opening track--"This World"--emits sonic sunshine. "Respect Yourself" stands as a timeless classic for anyone with these lyrics: "If you disrespect everybody that you run into/How in the world do you expect anyone to respect you?"

"Name The Missing Word" allows the great singer/songwriter Eddie Hinton to demonstrate his formidable guitar skills. "This Old Town" epitomizes the Staple Singers blending genres of music. Terry Manning mixed this session and his bold engineering provided a soul & roll panache to these tunes like "We The People". The Pops Staples original "Who Do You Think You Are? (Jesus Christ The Super Star)" brings gospel to the music masses.

Two previously unreleased bonus tracks--"Walking in Water Over Our Head" and "Heavy Makes You Happy"--were both recorded in Muscle Shoals Studios and now complete this classic album. Be Altitude: Respect Yourself serves as musical salvation for the soul...

James Calemine

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related tags

Music,
Lore,
Discourse,
Alabama,
Muscle Shoals,
Mystery and Manners,

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