Thursday, October 7, 2010
Mavis Staples & Jeff Tweedy @ City Winery
The new Mavis Staples' release, "You Are Not Alone" is still in very heavy rotation in this household. Jeff Tweedy's contributions have turned this record into one of the best of the year. To my ears it is as much of a Wilco record as it is a classic Staples' statement. The emphasis is on gospel and soul, but it's Tweedy's production and overall feel for the music that keeps "You Are Not Alone" many steps ahead of your ordinary collection of spiritual covers. (And I will go on record and say that the title track, a Jeff Tweedy original, is my favorite song of the year.)
Most of the record was performed to a packed house last night, as was a powerful version of The Band's "The Weight," and of course, the classic, "I'll Take You There." I had hoped Jeff Tweedy would make an appearance for this performance, and he did, second song in, on a killer take of John Fogerty's "I Wrote A Song For Everyone," not only giving Mavis additional musical support, but taking a verse on his own.
He was on and off stage for the rest of the night, adding guitar and vocals as he saw fit. The band, Staples' touring band for a few years now, was superb, finding the necessary grooves, leaving necessary space and allowing Mavis to testify when the spirit moved her.
Is it possible that Mavis Staples, after 50 years in the biz, is at the top of her game? I say, "Yes!"
Listen, then BUY "You Are Not Alone."