The Staple Singers

In Praise of Him

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It's hard to vote against the Staple Singers, and even though this ten-track set of gospel pieces drawn from a live concert is a bit on the brief side, there's still enough of Pops Staples' chicken-scratch guitar and Mavis Staples' soaring vocals to make it all stick to the wall. Highlights include the opener, "Glory, Glory Hallelujah!," which brims with an obvious and bubbling joy, the decidedly country gospel feel of "Jacob's Ladder," a solid reading of the traditional "Wade in the Water," and Pops' trademark reverb-laced guitar work on the closing track, "He." What you don't get here is the secular-leaning gospel-soul hybrid that most people think of when they think of the Staple Singers, which means this isn't an ideal introductory collection, but these folks never recorded a bad album (or gave a bad concert, for that matter), so if In Praise of Him isn't essential, it isn't a throwaway, either.

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