In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery-Selma Civil Rights marches, Legacy Recordings a legendary recording by acclaimed gospel/soul outfit The Staple Singers. “Freedom Highway Complete” is a remixed, remastered and expanded edition of the group’s 1965 album recorded at Chicago’s New Nazareth Church.
The original album was constrained by the limits of 12-inch vinyl and the concert and church service were edited down. “Complete” includes 30 more minutes from the historic occasion and is the first-ever release of the full concert and service.
Recorded a few weeks after the famous Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.-led Alabama marches, the set is highlighted spirited renditions of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “We Shall Overcome,” “Take My Hand Precious Lord,” “Help Me Jesus” and “He’s All Right.” The original tune “Freedom Highway” is especially powerful, eliciting chills all these years later. Also new to “Complete” are an intro and outro from Roebuck “Pops” Staples.
The recording is somewhat primitive, but that’s a minor quibble about an otherwise impressive — and important — album. (Jeffrey Sisk)