Billboard #1 Hits: #273: “I’ll Take You There”- The Staple Singers. June 3, 1972. #1 for 1 week in the Billboard Hot 100.
- Single:”I’ll Take You There”- The Staple Singers
- Record Company- Stax
- Genre: Soul
- Written by Al Bell
- Time: 4:43
- B-side”I”m Just Another Soldier”
- Album-Be Altitude: Respect Yourself
- Grade: A+
- Peaked at #1 1 week in Billboard Hot 100. #20 in UK Singles Chart.
The Staples Singers biggest hit- they had another #1 later with “Let’s Do It Again”- but this is the more famous one. “I’ll Take You There” was ranked in Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs Ever list at-#276.
Stax Records vice-president Al Bell (born Avertis Isabell) wrote this after attending the funeral of his little brother, who was shot to death. Said Bell: “I went out in the backyard in my father’s home. He had an old school bus there parked that was not running. I went back there and sat on the hood of that bus thinking about all that was happening. And all of a sudden, I hear this music in my head. And I heard these lyrics: ‘I know a place, ain’t nobody worried, ain’t nobody crying, and ain’t no smiling faces lying to the races, I’ll take you there.’ I heard it, and I heard the music. And it wouldn’t leave, it stayed there. kept trying to write other verses, but I couldn’t. Nothing worked – there was nothing left to say.
Many elements of this song, including the famous intro, were based on a Jamaican instrumental song called “The Liquidator” by The Harry J All Stars, which was a #9 UK hit in 1969. Al Bell, who had made frequent trips to Jamaica, brought the record into the session and played it for the band, who used it as a template. They thought the record was a demo Bell made, and didn’t find out until many years later that they lifted an existing song. David Hood, who played bass on this track, told us: “The Liquidator thing, we didn’t know what that was. As I recall, he came in and brought what they call a dub. It was like an acetate or something, a disk that you put on the record player and play. And it had no lyrics on it. We just thought it was an instrumental track that somebody had done for a song. And it was only years later when I found out that that had been a record.”