- 05 Sep 18
Sugar Coated Septuagenarian Soul
On the road since she was a teenager, Candi Staton has paid her dues several times over. As part of the Jewell Gospel Trio, she toured with the likes of Mahalia Jackson in the fifties. Jump forward to the early 70s and, married to producer and owner of the legendary FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Rick Hall, she was known as the “first Lady Of Southern Soul”. If you want to know why, beg, steal or borrow Evidence: The Complete Fame Records Masters. One listen to the likes of ‘I’m Just A Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin’)’ and you’ll be glad you did.
She might also be familiar to you from her big disco(ish) hit from 1976, ‘Young Hearts Run Free’. Still not ringing any bells? How about ‘You Got The Love’? a huge hit in the 90s, later mercilessly butchered by Florence Leghorn & The Machine.
Unstoppable is Staton’s 30th album, and at 78 years old, on her sixth marriage, she’s not messing about, touting it as a response to current state of American society. There are six originals of varying quality, but much more interesting are smoking versions of Norma Jenkins’ ‘I Fooled You (Didn’t I)’ and Tyrone Davis’ ‘Can I Change My Mind’, which both have enough grit to recall the FAME glory days.
There’s also a lovely reading of Nick Lowe’s ‘(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding’, a song more relevant now than ever, but her run at Patti Smith’s ‘People Have The Power’ is a bit too jaunty for its own good, losing the strident power of the original.
The production is a tad shiny in places, a bit harsh where it should be warm and enveloping, but it would take a harder heart than mine to deny her this deserved lap of honour.