Candi Staton

Band members                              Related acts

- Candi Stanton -- vocals




- The Jewell Gospel Trio 





Genre: soul

Rating: 5 stars *****

Title:  I'm Just a Prisoner

Company: Fame

Catalog: ST-4201

Country/State: Hanceville, Alabama

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Catalog ID: 5991

Price: $40.00


Candi Staton's early career reads like a screenplay for one of those Hallmark Hall of Fame inspirational movies so I'm going to avoid the details ...  She was born and raised in Hanceville, Alabama.  Her family was extremely poor, but devote leading to an early introduction to Gospel music.  In the early 1950s her parents divorced.  With her mother relocating to Cleveland, Candi and her sister Maggie were sent to Nashville where they attended the Jewell Christian Academy.  Impressed with their vocal talents, the school paired the sisters with friend/schoolmate Naomi Harrison and as The Jewell Gospel Trio, the group began performing on the Southern Gospel circuit, recording occasional singles for a series of smaller labels.  


By the late-1960s Staton was frustrated with her personal and professional lives.  She divorced her husband and quit the Jewell Gospel Trio, deciding to pursue a career in secular music.   Her big break came in 1969 when singer/songwriter Clarence Carter heard her performing in a small club.  Impressed with Staton's chops, Carter helped her get sign with Rick Hall's newly formed Capitol-affiliated Fame label.  


Produced by Hall and recorded in Muscle Shoals with support from the cream of local sessions players, 1969's "I'm Just a Prisoner of Love" was simply a classic soul album.  With mentor and future husband Carter pulling together a top-rate collection of material (Staton co-wrote two of the songs with Carter), you'd be hard pressed to find a better debut.  For her part Staton had a killer voice that was instantly recognizable and simply tailor made for the southern soul genre. Tough, gritty, and in-your-face, add to that, she seemed more than willing to tap into her own frustrations and personal life for inspiration.  On tracks like ''I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart' and '' this was definitely one ticked-off woman ...   Imagine the spunk of Millie Jackson, but without the abject crassness.   


- Curiously, penned by Carter, 'Someone You Use' was one of the less impressive numbers.  Staton's performance was fine, but the song itself was kind of a bland country-soul number.   rating: ** stars

- 'I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart (Than a Young Man's Fool)' kicked the album into high gear.  A classic Carter tune, this one had it all; great tune, fantastic rhythm section, and Staton's take-no-prisoners vocal.  Easy to see why Fame tapped this one as a single.  It should have been an even bigger hit.   rating: ***** stars  

- 'You Don't Love Me No More' was a simmering ballad that brought out the aching edge in Staton's voice.  Beautiful song with some killer horn charts.  My only criticism is that the song faded out just as the horns were hitting the hook.   rating: **** stars  

- Kicked along by a great Roger Hawkins drum beat, 'Evidence' was easily the album's toughest performance.  Staton sang this one with such conviction you just knew that the poor guy didn't stand a chance.  Whoever he was, he was looking at a long stretch in the slammer.   rating: ***** stars  

- Tapped as the album's third single, 'Sweet Feeling' effortlessly blended a breezy groove with a bluesy, deep-soul delivery.  Another standout performance.   rating: **** stars  

- One of those double entendre lyrics that make you snicker, 'Do Your Duty' sported one of the album's best hooks and would have made a dandy fourth single.   rating: **** stars    

- In spite of her extensive background in Gospel, Staton seemed to go out of her way to avoid the influence on this album.  The exception was her cover of Roosevelt Jamison's 'That's How Strong My Love Is'.  Built on a '50s influenced arrangement, a song like this usually wouldn't do much for me, but this was one of those rare exceptions.  Killer performance.   rating: **** stars  

- 'I'm Just a Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin')' started out with a distinctive blues feel, but quickly exploded into one of the album's toughest funk numbers and possibly Staton's best performance.  Try sitting still while this one's playing.  Fame tapped this as the second single.   rating: ***** stars    

- A '50s-styled ballad with an arrangement that sounded like something Atlantic's Jerry Wexler  might have done for Aretha Franklin,, 'Another Man's Woman, Another Woman's Man' was pretty, but never really kicked into gear.   rating: ** stars    

- With a driving rhythm, 'Get It When I Want It' was easily the hardest rocking song on the album.  A lot of soul singers opt to go shrill when singing more-rock oriented numbers (think Tina Turner), but Staton avoided that mistake, in the process turning in one of her most enjoyable performances.  Great track.   rating: ***** stars    


Fame also tapped the album for a number of singles:



 1969's 'I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart' b/w 'Never in Public' (Fame catalog number P-1456) # 9 R&B; # 46 pop

- 1969's 'I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart' b/w 'For You' (Fame catalog number P-1456)  # 9 R&B; # 46 pop

- 1970's 'I'm Just a Prisoner' b/w 'Heart on a String' (Fame catalog number P-1460)# 13 R&B; # 56 pop

- 1970's 'Sweet Feeling' b/w 'Evidence' (Fame catalog number P-1466) # 5 R&B; # 60 pop


Eight out of ten fantastic slices of late-1960s soul.  One of those rarities where the hype is well deserved !


"I'm Just a Prisoner" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Someone You Use   (Mann - Clarence Carter - Inglese - Stough) - 2:32

2.) I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart (Than a Young Man's Fool)   (Clarence Carter - George Jackson - Raymond Moore) - 2:05

3.) You Don't Love Me No More   (Clarence Carter - Candi Staton) - 2:19

4.) Evidence    (Raymond Moore - George Jackson) - 2:35

5.) Sweet Feeling   (Clarence Carter - Candi Staton) - 2:45


(side 2)
1.) Do Your Duty   (Ronnie Shannon) - 2:32

2.) That's How Strong My Love Is   (Roosevelt Jamison) - 3:25

3.) I'm Just a Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin')   (George Jackson - Eddie Harris) - 3:09 

4.) Another Man's Woman, Another Woman's Man   (Greene - Penn - George Jackson) - 2:30

5.) Get It When I Want It    (Raymond Moore - George Jackson) - 2:25



Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Stand By Your Man

Company: Fame

Catalog: ST-4202

Country/State: Hanceville, Alabama

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5430

Price: $40.00


As far as I'm concerned, Candi Staton has a voice that could stop a truck (to say nothing of her stunning looks) ...  That voice, tough yet vulnerable, is an amazing gift that allows her to handle virtually any musical genre.  Since hearing her early 1970s work when I was a child, she's literally become one of my favorite artists.




Her second album for Fame Records, 1970's "Stand By Your Man" found Staton continuing her collaboration with producer Rick Hall.  Propelled by that wonderfully raspy voice, the results made for what was simply classic Southern soul.  All hyperbole aside, you knew that anyone who good take a sappy piece of country crap like Tammi Wynette's 'Stand By Your Man' and turn it into a spunky soul workout was special and Staton repeatedly displayed those gifts throughout the album.  While virtually every one of these ten tracks was worthwhile, Staton seemed to reserve special affection for material written by George Jackson.  Tracks like 'I'm Just a Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin')', the breezy 'Too Hurt To Cry', and 'Freedom Is Just beyond the Door' were unbelievable.  That's not to downplay the other material, including a mesmerizing cover of Harlan Howard's 'He Called Me Baby', her collaboration with Clarence Carter 'Sweet Feeling', or the bluesy Staton original 'To Hear You Say You're Mine'.  


Just a shade less impressive than "Candi Staton", but a worthy addition to any soul collectors stash.  Wonder if anyone else shudders when they read the liner notes that include the following: " ... an intense, serious look, lips slightly parted, warm and generous ... smiling with soft and steady eyes, an intense inner glow - a categorically, breathtakingly beautiful girl.  A black girl."


"Stand By Your Man" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Stand By Your Man   (Bill Sherrill - Tammi Wynette) - 2:53

As good as the Tammi Wynette version was (and I don't even like country music), Staton's soul infused cover is even better.  She didn't really mess with the original melody and arrangement (the backing vocals sound like the could have even been lifted from the original version), but her delivery was simply amazing.  Courtesy of YouTube I found a live performance of the tune :   rating: **** stars

2.) How Can I Put Out the Flame (When You Keep the Fire Burning)   (George Jackson - R. Moore) - 3:10

Anyone who doubted Staton's Southern soul credential only need to check out this slow burner.   Killer performance.   rating: **** stars

3.) I'm Just a Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin')   (George Jackson - E. Harris) - 3:08

That weird little hook she had in her voice was just amazing ...  bluesier than some of her work, but when the backing singers kick in ...   heavenly.   rating: **** stars

4.) Mr. and Mrs. Untrue   (Toni Wine- Joey Levine) - 3:26

Not meant as a comment on her personality, but few folks can pull off a cheatin' tune as well as Staton.   This one was also tapped as a single.   rating: **** stars

5.) Too Hurt To Cry   (George Jackson - E. Harris) - 2:53

Not that Staton ever held back, but 'Too Hurt To Cry' saw her really cut loise and the bouncy keyboard was icing on the melodic cake ...   One of the standout performances on an album that was full of standout performances.   rating: **** stars


(side 2)
1.) He Called Me Baby   (Harlan Howard) - 2:47

Staton's restrained, heartbreaking delivery is devasting, but the amazing bass line is what makes this one so great.   rating: **** stars

2.) Sweet Feeling   (Clarence Carter - Candi Staton - Rick Hall - M. Daniel) - 2:42

Co-written with then-husband Clarence Carter, 'Sweet Feeling' was one one of those bluesy numbers that sounded like it would have fit on a classic Aretha album.  Always loved the stinging lead guitar that went with it.   rating: **** stars

3.) To Hear You Say You're Mine   (Candi Staton) - 3:06

A pretty, laidback ballad, 'To Hear You Say You're Mine' also exhibited a distinctive Gospel edge.  Nice, but not one of the album highlights.   rating: *** stars

4.) What Would Become of Me   (Barbara Wyrick) - 2:45

I've always loved the arrangement on this bluesy ballad.  And the fact of the matter is Staton delivers the best "baby, baby. baby' refrains in soul music.   Only complaint on this one is it faded out too earlier.   rating: **** stars

5.) Freedom Is Just beyond the Door   (George Jackson - E. Cage Jr.) - 2:47

If I had to pick (not that I'd want to), 'Freedom Is Just beyond the Door' would be my choice for the album's best performance.   Great driving vocal (you can just feel the edge in Staton's voice), fantastic arrangement, and the guitar work is great.   rating: ***** stars



Elsewhere the album was notable for spinning off three singles:


- 1970's 'Stand By Your Man' b/w 'How Can I Put Out the Flame (When You Keep the Fire Burning)' (Fame catalog number P-1472) # 4 R&B; # 24 pop

- 1970's 'He Called Me Baby' b/w 'What Would Become of Me' (Fame catalog number P-1476) # 9 R&B; # 52 pop

- 1970's 'Mr. and Mrs. Untrue' b/w 'Too Hurt To Cry' (Fame catalog number P-1478) # 20 R&B; # 52 pop (the 'B' side hit # 109 pop)


Staton also has a nice website at: