Live – Hope at the Hideout
If you’ve never felt the spirit of a Southern tent revival, this live disc from Staples Singers lead Mavis will bring you right up to speed. With a half-century of belting blues and the gospel, Ms. Staples still brings a power and energy to the task of pointing out injustices and letting her indignation take full sail. Normally, live recordings feel disorganized and muddy, but with a minimal trio and three female voices behind her, Mavis Staples’ rough-edged blues feels intimate and crisp, like she was standing right between your ear buds. Her choice of music ranges from the slow, bluesy “Why Am I Treated so Bad?” to the jump up and shout “Freedom Highway.” More than a few songs tell stories of the Jim Crow days and the worst fears of growing up black in Mississippi, and the rest are either appeals to God’s mercy or demands for justice. The vibe here mixes the indignation of the Selma march with the down home reliance on Jesus and family. The introduction to “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” fills in some possibly apocryphal family gossip, and the rest of the intersong dialog is entertaining enough to stand up to a few spins of the disc. If you only own one soul album, consider this gem.