“Respect Yourself,” which originally appeared on the Staple Singers’ 1972 album Be Altitude: Respect Yourself, resonated with listeners and became the group’s biggest hit to date—landing at No. 2 on the Billboard Soul chart and No. 12 on the Hot 100. The eerily prophetic tune—which even included the lyric “Keep talkin' bout the president, won't stop air pollution/Put your hand on your mouth when you cough, that'll help the solution”—was a perfect fit for the Staple Singers, who were formidable voices in the Civil Rights Movement and often incorporated politically charged messages of racial equality into their songs. Featuring members of the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and Memphis Horns, the song was penned by Luther Ingramand Mack Rice, and produced by Stax Records executive Al Bell.
The new lyric video comes ahead of a comprehensive 7-CD box set celebrating the Staple Singers and their legendary output at Stax Records. Spanning 1968–1974, Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection is available November 13 and includes many of the Staples’ most iconic recordings, including “I’ll Take You There,” “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me),” “Long Walk to D.C.,” and, of course, “Respect Yourself.” The collection was also released earlier this year on vinyl and digital formats, both available now.
Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection takes listeners back to 1968, when the Staple Singers went into the studio to record their first album for Stax, Soul Folk in Action, working with producer Steve Cropper and songwriter Homer Banks. The sessions were set against a backdrop of social and political turmoil, which climaxed with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis. The Staple Singers were known for writing politically charged “message songs,” and the year’s events certainly inspired many of the tracks on this album, including “Long Walk to D.C.” and “The Ghetto.” In their liner notes, Levon Williams and Dr. Langston Wilkins write that both of these songs “Truly tapped into the experiences and emotions of Black America at the close of the ’60s. The former is a tribute to the 1963 March on Washington told from the perspective of a poor yet hopeful African American person willing to use their last dimes to make it to the rally … Conversely, the somber and haunting ‘The Ghetto’ takes listeners deep into the isolation and despair of inner-city life.”
Featuring newly remastered audio, Come Go With Me features all six of The Staple Singers’ albums for Stax, plus a seventh disc of rarities, non-album singles and live recordings from the legendary 1972 Wattstax music festival. The box set also includes a booklet with archival photos and liner notes from American music specialist and curator Levon Williams (formerly of the Stax Museum and the National Museum of African American Music) and folklorist, ethnomusicologist and writer Dr. Langston Wilkins.
The set has received strong praise from such outlets as Uncut, Mojo and Paste—the latter of which writes, “this marvelous run of records sound brand new … with the earthy tang of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and the Bar-Kays horn section ripping out of the speakers with hip-shaking fervor ... This is a milestone of American musical history, treated with the appropriate levels of respect and reverence.” All six of the StapleSingers’ albums with Stax were also recently made available in hi-res 24-bit/192 kHz and 24-bit/96 kHz digital formats for the first time.