April 22, 2004

Test Spin: Candi Staton

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Though Candi Staton is mostly known for her disco hits in the late ’70s, her early work recalls the very top tier of the Stax/Volt or Motown labels, twisting and grinding blues dirges into all the jubilance and enthusiasm that pop music thrives on. Almost half the tracks are about women done wrong, seeking brutal retaliation or equally brutal reconciliation. And they’re all done with the sort of bravado that terrible word, “sass,” was invented for, rumbling into an emotive territory where terror and cool joy mingle. A song like the flawless “The Best Thing You Ever Had” swings over to a pure blaxploitating strut-heaven, where high-heeled women walk away from filthy derelicts passed out on the floor. On “I’m Just a Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin’),” Candi is so fiercely ingratiating, you hardly notice when she abandons her restless love and starts pontificating on her husband-cum-slave-driver. There are 26 songs here, and it’s difficult to listen to in one sitting solely because the compressed brilliance of each track will decimate your expectations till you’re as exhausted as Candi’s lungs. An absolute masterpiece of a compilation.

Archived article by Alex Linhardt
Red Letter Daze Editor-in-Chief