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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The S4L Blues Album of the Year 2015: Don't Lose This - Pop Staples

There's been a couple of really great Blues albums that I've really enjoyed this year: A Fool To Care by Boz Scaggs, Born to Play Guitar by Buddy Guy, and the recent Battle Scars by Walter Trout to name but a few.

The album I've chosen for The S4L Blues Album of the Year is one that was years in the making and only saw the light of day fifteen years after the passing of the artist concerned. So for the past fifteen years I'm fairly sure that Heaven's Halls have been filled with the sound of Pops Staples voice singing an even greater song whilst here on earth we got to hear his weathered blues/gospel for one last time.

Between 1998-1999 Roebuck "Pop" Staples recorded a bunch of songs that were supposed to be for a final album by The Staples Singers, Mavis Staples said:
"It was meant to be our last work, but my sisters and I decided to let Pops sing, to let him have this one. ... One day, Pops told me, ‘Mavis, bring that record up here, I want to hear it.’ I brought it up to the bedroom and he listened. When it was over, Pops told me, ‘Mavis, don’t lose this here.’ I said, ‘OK, Pops, I won’t lose it.’ And he just smiled. It was a moment I’ll never forget. He had this glow after listening to it; he loved it. So I kept it.

    I always said I was going to get it out there because Pops told me not to lose it. When he said, ‘Don’t lose this,’ that meant: ‘Let it be heard.’"
Mavis teamed up with Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) with whom she had already worked on a couple of fantastic albums (You Are Not Alone and One True Vine) and he added newer production to the 16 year old tapes. Tweedy's son Spencer played drums on the record and Jeff played bass.
Will Hermes of Rolling Stone gave it a Four Star Review. Tshepo Mokoena of The Guardian also spoke very warmly of the album.

So what you get are 10 beautiful tracks brimming over with gospel, R&B, and the Blues, particular highlights for me were Somebody Was Watching, Friendship, The Lady's Letter, Will the Circle Be Unbroken and an absolutely jaw dropping rendition of Bob Dylan's Gotta Serve Somebody.

Don't Lose This - Pop Staples
dBPM Records/Anti Records
Produced by Jeff Tweedy
Released 17th February 2015
Independent Albums Chart #16

Don't Lose This

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