Candi Staton - His Hands

The name Candi Station is known to three different constituencies of pop music. Her 1976 hit "Young Hearts Run Free" is possibly only second to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" as a feminist anthem that always gets played at Wedding Receptions etc. In 1991 dance act The Source sampled a gospel track Staton had recorded to produce "You Got The Love" which has
been a hit on more than one occasion for clubbers. But to the hardcore sixties soul fan the records she made with producer Rick Hall at the small but legendary Muscle Shoals Studio in Alabama in the late sixties and early seventies are her greatest work and some of the best examples of Southern Soul.

The enterprising Honest Jons label released twenty six of those tracks on a highly acclaimed CD simply entitled "Candi Staton" in 2004. The success of that collection persuaded that company approach Staton (pronounced Stay-ton incidentally) with a view to recording a new album. For the past two decades Staton has not recorded any secular material, immersing herself in spreading the word through gospel music where she had started her career as a member of the Four Golden Echoes and The Jewel Gospel trio before she was in her teens.

Mark Nevers, a founder member of the alt-country band Lambchop was appointed as producer and decided on a sound that was not a complete replica of the Muscle Shoals sound, but neither was it a contemporary R&B sound. Barry Becket is the only musician from the Muscle SHoals Sessions to play on this album, infact coming out of a retirement to contribute his skills on hammond organ. Other musicians who took part in the sessions at Mark Nevers beech house studio were other members of Lambchop and Candi's son and daughter on drums and backing vocals respectively.

Most of the songs are ballads with only a few performed at a faster tempo. There are four compositions by Staton herself that stand up well against songs from the repertoire's of Merle Haggard, Charlie Rich and Solomon Burke, but the albums centrepiece and title track is "His Hands" written especially for Candi by will Oldham. The song is kind of a thumbnail sketch
of Staton's life, suffering at the hands of abusive husbands and finding solace in alcohol and later finding salvation in the hands of the lord (for two decades she has run her own ministry)

Thankfully for lovers of soul music, as it used to be in it's golden age, Candi Staton was encouraged to return to secular music thanks to the Honest Jons label.

Derek McCann

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