Staple Singers, “Jesus is All” from Freedom Highway Complete (2015): One Track Mind

Share this:

By April 9, 1965, as the Staple Singers set up at the New Nazareth Church in Chicago to record the album that would become Freedom Highway, the group had moved far afield of its original gospel roots. Galvanized by the emerging Civil Rights movement, Roebuck “Pops” Staples and family had offered a series of stirring protest songs like “March Up Freedom’s Highway,” “Why? (Am I Treated So Bad),” and “Washington is a Long Walk To D.C.” — moments that helped frame the era.

By, as Legacy’s forthcoming Freedom Highway Complete: Recorded Live at Chicago’s New Nazareth Church makes viscerally clear, the Staple Singers could still rattle the back pews.

Formerly constrained by the physical limitations of a 12-inch vinyl LP, the Staple Singers performance — recorded in glorious mono by Billy Sherrill — is now available in its entirety. A highlight of this reissue’s never-before-heard material is “Jesus Is All,” which begins like a field holler before gaining steady, hand-clapping momentum. It finally emerges as a jubilant paean to the sturdy faith needed to persevere through the toughest of times.

Pops Staples is featured on lead vocals and on a plucky guitar, along with a rhythm section of bassist Phil Upchurch and drummer Al Duncan. Yvonne, Pervis and Mavis Staples make up the rest of the Staple Singers. A full gospel choir, known as the Caravans, is also featured on Freedom Highway Complete, which will be available as a single CD, double vinyl or digital download on March 3, 2015.

The reissue marks not just the 50th anniversary of the Staple Singers’ Freedom Highway, but also five decades since the Selma-Montgomery Freedom Marches. The original release has been long out of print, with only two songs recently available via a 1999 Epic compilation, also called Freedom Highway.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close