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Rhythm & Views

Candi Staton

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The legendary FAME studio and label in Muscle Shoals, Ala., is where some of '60s R&B's biggest legends (Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Wilson Pickett) made their finest records. Lesser-known but just as talented was Southern soul queen Candi Staton, whose glory years (1969-1973) are represented in a new offering from Astralwerks. This 26-song collection is a must-have for any self-respecting music enthusiast, and it offers a rare glimpse into a long-ago world where things like talent, songwriting and thoughtful production mattered.

Candi Staton didn't just sing her early material; she inhabited it. Songs like "Another Man's Woman, Another Woman's Man" give you the sense she actually lived out such desperate scenarios. Raw, urgent and wounded by love, Staton's voice never lapses. Indeed, Staton could be anything a song demanded--funky, tragic, spiritual--and Tim Tooher's liner notes leave you wondering how a woman with so many obstacles in her life could do all this.

It's amazing to hear Staton's rendition of a country standard like "Stand By Your Man." I've heard stories about the '60s (when Southern whites and blacks once enjoyed the same music); I've been told that when a new CCR album or Marvin Gaye single came out, everyone, regardless of race, went out and bought a copy. With today's audiences fractured into a hundred different groups and sub-groups, this compilation is a reminder that pop music--whether "Country" or "R&B"--once had the power to truly bring people together.

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