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Pops Staples

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You’d be hard pressed to find many musicians and performers cooler than Pops Staples, even at his currently advanced age of, er, about 23 million. Produced by daughter Mavis—of late an associate of the artist formerly known as that little purple guy—Father Father finds the Staples’ father in fine form. He still sounds like he cut his vocals off a hunk of fatback, and he shows he hasn’t lost control of his wah-wah pedal. Ry Cooder shows up to produce “Downward Road” and the traditional “Jesus Is Going to Make Up (My Dying Bed),” but the album’s best tracks are Staples’ reworking of other material—including “People Get Ready” and an ice-cool take onDylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody.” This is gutbucket, rootsy soul at its best.