Why We Picked Mavis Staples
Andrew Winistorfer: I think I was mostly responsible for this one ending up as the Essentials record this month. I was researching albums to pick for VMP Classics, digging my way through the Stax/Volt catalog, and listened to Mavis Staples’ debut solo LP on Volt. It’s an incredible, amazing soul album that hits you in the chest, just like the best Mavis Staples stuff from recent years. There’s no one better than her. When I realized it hadn’t gotten reissued since the ’80s and is hard to come by, I realized it might be bigger than Classics: It would fit perfectly for a December Essentials Record of the Month. The last few years, we’ve tried to do jazz or blues or soul albums for December — with us doing Miles Davis last year, and Nina Simone the year before, and Ben Webster two years before that — and this just felt so perfect for Essentials. We locked this in for this month back in like, February or something. It’s been in the works for a really long time.
Cameron Schaefer, Vinyl Me, Please Head Of Music & Brand: Yeah, exactly what you said: Every December we try to pick a record that will be good for the whole family, knowing that people are going to have their entire extended families hanging around, so we try to pick something that you can put on at a holiday gathering and have people of all ages appreciate it.
The other part of this is that we feel like a lot of our members know Mavis Staples, but while she’s still active and a lot of her recent projects get a lot of attention, we thought it would be cool to take people back to the beginning of her solo career. It helps showcase the real breadth of her career.
I think she’s a rare artist where people are really familiar with her, know some Staple Singers albums and songs, but have not done that homework of going back and listening to all of her solo albums before the recent ones.
So, when I was thinking about it for Classics it just so clearly came into view that this was a perfect December Essentials album.
Like a lot of our Classics titles, we had this one remastered by Kevin Gray, right?
Yep, remastered by Kevin Gray from the original analog master tapes. It sounds incredible.
And it’s on super beautiful Tiger’s Eye vinyl too.
And pressed at Memphis Record Pressing as well. A lot of beautiful synergy there: Recorded in Memphis on a Memphis record label and pressed at a Memphis record plant.