Freedom Highway Complete: Recorded Live at Chicago's New Nazareth Church

Freedom Highway Complete: Recorded Live at Chicago's New Nazareth Church

by The Staple Singers
     
 

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In April 1965, the Staple Singers had not yet crossed over to the R&B charts, and were devoted gospel artists at a time when the African-American church was playing a major role in the civil rights movement. Just a month before, Dr. Martin Luther King's march from Selma to Montgomery had pushed violence against peaceful

Overview

In April 1965, the Staple Singers had not yet crossed over to the R&B charts, and were devoted gospel artists at a time when the African-American church was playing a major role in the civil rights movement. Just a month before, Dr. Martin Luther King's march from Selma to Montgomery had pushed violence against peaceful activists onto the nation's front pages and nightly news broadcasts, and made the battle for racial equality the key issue of the day. The Staple Singers had recently signed to Epic Records, and the label wanted to record a live performance by the Staples in their natural environment, Chicago's New Nazareth Church, where the family worshiped when not on the road. Producer Billy Sherrill set up recording equipment at the church, and the result was the album Freedom Highway, which not only captured the sound of the Staple Singers bringing forth the spirit for the Lord, but saw them debuting their song "Freedom Highway," in which they spoke in no uncertain term about the need for civil rights, the first of many songs in their repertoire that spoke of issues in the secular world as well as celebrating God and Jesus. Fifty years after Freedom Highway was recorded, Epic/Legacy have issued Freedom Highway Complete, which presents the April 9, 1965 performance by the Staple Singers in full, in a new mix that emphasizes the interaction between the artists and the spectators, as well as presenting the concert in full, unedited form. While there are some minor flaws in this thinking -- most notably including seven minutes of Rev. Hopkins taking collection and scolding the flock for not donating enough -- the result is a truly extraordinary document. At the opening, "Pops" Staples reminds the audience that they're at a worship service, not a concert, and should react as the spirit guides them, and the joy of the worshipers is genuine and enthusiastic, and it flows back through the Staples, who reveal why the were one of the leading gospel acts of the day as they stretch these songs into glorious testaments of belief. At the same time, you can also hear what set them apart -- "Pops" Staples' guitar work is brilliant, a spectral variation on country blues figures transformed into magic by his sure touch and a bit of reverb, and Mavis Staples, 25 years old at the time, was already singing with the force and authority that would make her a legend. Freedom Highway Complete is a deeply moving document of a handful of gifted artists guided by their talents, their spirits, and their consciences at a critical moment in American history, and it's one of the most important archival releases of recent years.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/03/2015
Label:
Epic
UPC:
0888430650121
catalogNumber:
306501
Rank:
12015

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Staple Singers   Primary Artist
Phil Upchurch   Bass
Roebuck "Pops" Staples   Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Duncan   Drums
Mavis Staples   Group Member
Pervis Staples   Group Member
Yvonne Staples   Group Member

Technical Credits

Guy Carawan   Composer
Pete Seeger   Composer
Frank Hamilton   Composer
Jim Lane   Production Director
Roebuck "Pops" Staples   Arranger,Composer
Zilphia Horton   Composer
Billy Sherrill   Original Album Producer
Hank Williams   Composer
Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey   Composer
Nedra Olds-Neal   Liner Notes
Frank Harkins   Art Direction
Matt Cavaluzzo   Tape Research
Rev. William Herbert Brewster   Composer
Robert Gordon   Liner Notes
Matt Kelly   Tape Research
Steve Berkowitz   Liner Notes
Saul Lambert   Cover Art

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