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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"I'll Take You There"

The Staple Singers - I'll Take You There (1972) 

Always popular with the advertisers, this song has sold cars, clothes, and vacations.

So Don Cornelius died today. His show Soul Train started syndication across the country in October of 1971. I thought I'd review a song from the first episode. But I can't; nor the second or third. Even though Gladys Knight and the Pips, Honey Cone, and Chairmen of the Board were all on the show, none of those acts are part of the 1,001 songs in the book. (They are in the 10,001 songs you must download portion.) Episode four had The Staples Singers. They were most likely singing their hit Respect Yourself, but this is the song the book has chosen.

Based on the bass line from the reggae song The Liquidator by the Harry J Allstars, songwriter and producer Al Bell built a fairly long song out of almost nothing. Two chords, one slightly used bass line, and a gospel style call and response vocal for a family band. The guitar, piano, and harmonica solos, as well as all the backing music are all played by studio musicians. Mostly it's The Swampers also known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. They played backup on dozens of platinum hits from Mustang Sally to Kodachrome. Lynyrd Skynyrd name checks the group in Sweet Home Alabama. The solos fill out a big section in the middle. The horns are The Memphis Horns, which I mentioned about two months ago.

The Staples Singers were a father and his three daughters, originally founded as a gospel group. They began performing in the late 40s and had a record contract in 1952. They moved to a more pop sound in the 60s, but it wasn't until the early 1970s that they had breakthrough mainstream success. They could play their instruments, and had a real tight harmony sound from working together for twenty five years. They sang only uplifting and religious themed music and had top forty hits into the early 80s.

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