Published Apr 18, 2007Theres something particularly timely about this collaboration between Mavis Staples and Ry Cooder, as the two legends commemorate the adversity of the Civil Rights movement. Despite remarkable progress, the African-American quest for equality in North America seems never-ending. Such incidents, not to mention the wounding debacle that was Hurricane Katrina, lend credence to Staples position that the Civil Rights struggle against racism is not some memory frozen in the 60s. Backed by a swampy, stirring musical melange nurtured by Cooder, Staples breathes contemporary fire into old freedom songs such as "Eyes on the Prize and "We Shall Not be Moved, each of which features subtle backing from Ladysmith Black Mambazo. A cover of bluesman J.B. Lenoirs "Down in Mississippi is ferocious and haunting, just as the title track composed by Staples and Cooder is low-key yet emotionally-charged. These songs are purposeful, exhibiting a staunch belief in the power of music to affect positive change. Well Never Turn Back is an undeniably noble effort by Staples and Cooder, and its impact is bolstered by its artistry.
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