|From Billboard, Aug. 10, 1968|
Their first Stax LP (STS-2004) was already out in December 1968, produced and engineered by Steve Cropper. It certainly is one of their most memorable Stax albums. Eleven songs, no filler, and much variety, ranging from Otis's »Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay« to »Long Walk To D.C.«.
|Stax LP # STS-2004 (1968)|
Be that as it may, below you can listen to the one political song of this LP, entitled »I See It«, that did not go down favourably with many Americans. It is telling that this tune was released by Stax in the UK (Stax UK # 118), but not in the U.S. Although the song is, much in the Staples tradition, rather optimistic in outlook, there is a dis- turbing coda which re-creates, even today, the entire tension of the period by its rendering of the Star Spangled Banner. Best I quote here from the Stepfather of Soul page: »I See It finds Mavis and the group imagining a United States free from dis- cord and racism but full of brotherhood and national pride ... as the group goes to the fade the listener is jarred back into "reality" by a very discordant string version of The Star Spangled Banner, under which another violin plays Yankee Doodle. A very odd way to end such a positive tune, to be sure, but it very effectively underscores the problems that lurked underneath the surface in 1968 and still lurk today.« But it's not only about racism and social unrest. Think of the current case of the health care reform which is about to founder. If it does the poor will pay for it ... albeit only metaphorically, because the problem is exactly that they cannot pay ... ah well, no further, it makes me mad.
For good measure, there is a second song as well, Bonnie L. Bramlett's & Carl D. Radle's »We've Got To Get Ourselves Together«, again admirably done by Mavis Staples (did she ever do anything less than admirably?). Would that things work out as imagined by the Staples in 1968 ... usually they haven't, but there's always hope.
The Staple Singers: »I See It« / »We've Got To Get Ourselves Together« from the Stax LP # STS-2004 (1968):
|The Staple Singers, from the back cover of Stax # 2004.|