LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Staple Singers were best known for their '70s Stax hits like "Respect Yourself," "I'll Take You There" and "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)," but in fact the Chicago quartet's recording career dates back to the '50s on the Vee-Jay and Riverside labels. Their fifth effort was a Christmas album titled The 25th Day of December, which the All Music Guide calls "the group's finest '60s collection." The long-out-of-print album will be available once again this holiday season on Riverside Records through Concord Music Group.
Reissued for the first time, the album contains 12 holiday and spiritual classics including "Joy To The World," "Silent Night" and "Go Tell It on the Mountain." Included also is the Staples' treatment of the Rev. Thomas Dorsey's "The Savior Is Born." The album delves deep into traditional spirituals such as "The Virgin Mary Had One Son," "Wasn't That a Mighty Day" and "Last Month of the Year" and includes an original by group founder Roebuck "Pops" Staples titled "There Was a Star." Orrin Keepnews, one of Riverside's two founders, produced the album, which found the Staples' harmonies at their purest and most exciting.
Launched on a shoestring budget in 1953 by traditional jazz enthusiasts Bill Grauer and Orrin Keepnews in order to reissue classic jazz and blues recordings from the 1920s by King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Ma Rainey, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and others, Riverside Records evolved into one of the premier purveyors of modern jazz. With Keepnews producing the sessions (and writing the liner notes), Riverside soon brought such giants as Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, and Wes Montgomery to the forefront of American music. The New York-based company, which also released albums by Sonny Rollins, Abbey Lincoln, Art Blakey, Mongo Santamaria, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Heath, Johnny Griffin, Charlie Byrd, and the Staple Singers, among many others, folded in 1964, a year after Grauer's death. The Riverside catalog (including the Jazzland and Battle subsidiaries) was acquired by Fantasy, Inc. in 1972, and by Concord Music Group in 2004.
The Staple Singers Christmas reissue has been digitally mastered and is enclosed in a DigiPack with all new artwork. List is $11.98.