Mavis Staples, Pt. 2, Protomartyr & Charles Bradley

Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples has always had a political edge, even serving at times as Martin Luther King’s warm-up act. This week, Jim and Greg continue their candid interview with the gospel and soul legend. She speaks about her role on the front line of the Civil Rights Movement as part of the Staple Singers and recounts a harrowing story of touring through the Jim Crow South. Plus, Jim and Greg will review the new record from Detroit art rockers Protomartyr and they pay tribute to the late soul singer Charles Bradley.

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Mavis Staples

Earlier this year, we aired part one of an interview that Jim and Greg did with gospel and soul legend Mavis Staples. Mavis was such a fantastic guest that we had plenty of extra tape that we haven’t been able to broadcast until now. Greg literally wrote the book on Mavis Staples, titled I’ll Take You There. As he details in the book, activism is nothing new to Mavis. The theme of social consciousness is something that started for Mavis as a part of The Staple Singers, and it continues to run through Mavis’ solo career. It’s a major theme of her upcoming record If All I Was Was Black. In the 1950s and 60s, the Chicago-based Staple Singers toured the Jim Crow South extensively. It was a learning curve in many ways for the young Mavis, along with her siblings Cleotha, Yvonne, and Pervis.

Relatives in Descent Protomartyr

Relatives in Descent

Relatives in Descent is Protomartyr’s fourth album since forming in Detroit in 2010. Jim and Greg have loved all their previous records and had them on the show in 2014. After hearing the new album, Greg declares that they’re one of the best rock bands in America and that they keep getting better. He cites Greg Ahee’s agile but wild guitar playing and Alex Leonard’s unconventional textured drumming as keys to their sound. Joe Casey’s lyrics, he says, have an emotional undercurrent with a sense of anger. Jim also loves Casey’s elliptical approach to his lyrics, which show empathy for people who don’t often get attention or respect. He was hooked from the first time he heard the album and keeps finding things with each subsequent listen. Relatives in Descent gets an enthusiastic double- Buy It.

Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley

The soul singer Charles Bradley died September 23 from stomach and liver cancer at age 68. Greg had just acknowledged Bradley on the show as the ultimate late bloomer a few weeks prior, as he was 62 when he finally made his debut album after years of struggling. Bradley made three great records and on his most recent effort, the title track Changes is a cover of Black Sabbath’s 1972 song. Bradley covered the song and made it about reconciling with his mother after many years apart. Greg now finds Changes to be a fitting eulogy for Bradley.

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