Respect Yourself

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"Respect Yourself"
Respect Yourself - The Staple Singers.jpg
Single by the Staple Singers
from the album Be Altitude: Respect Yourself
B-side"You're Gonna Make Me Cry"
ReleasedOctober 1971
GenreSoul, rock
Length4:54
LabelStax
Songwriter(s)Luther Ingram, Mack Rice
Producer(s)Al Bell
The Staple Singers singles chronology
"You've Got to Earn It"
(1971)
"Respect Yourself"
(1971)
"I'll Take You There"
(1972)

"Respect Yourself" is a song by American R&B/gospel group the Staple Singers. Released in late 1971 from their album Be Altitude: Respect Yourself, the song became a crossover hit. The Staple Singers' version peaked at No. 12 on the Hot 100, No. 2 on the Hot Soul Singles chart, and is one of the group's most recognizable hits. In 2002, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and in 2010 it was ranked #468 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, moving down 4 spots from #464 in 2004.[1]

Writing and recording[edit]

The song was written by Stax Records singer Luther Ingram and house songwriter Mack Rice. Ingram, who was frustrated with the state of the world at the time, told Rice "black folk need to learn to respect themselves." Rice liked the comment so much that he built a funk groove around it, prepared a demo record, and suggested to record producer Al Bell that the Staple Singers record it. The group agreed.[2]

Bell teamed the group with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, musicians who laid down classic tracks for Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin, and with engineer/musician Terry Manning for vocals, overdubs, and mixing, in Memphis. The musicians were Barry Beckett (keyboards), Roger Hawkins (drums), Jimmy Johnson (guitar), and David Hood (bass), with lead vocals by "Pops" and Mavis Staples. The horns were overdubbed by Manning after the vocals were recorded, and were played by the Memphis Horns led by Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson. The song had resonance for a burgeoning self-empowerment movement for African-Americans during the post-civil-rights movement of the 1970s.[2] The Staple Singers' long version featured Roebuck "Pops" Staples, nearly 57 at the time, on lead for more than two minutes.[citation needed]

Cover versions[edit]

The Kane Gang version[edit]

"Respect Yourself"
Respect Yourself Kane Gang.jpg
Single by the Kane Gang
from the album The Bad and Lowdown World of the Kane Gang
B-side"Amusement Park"
Released1984
GenrePop
Length4:00
LabelKitchenware
Songwriter(s)Luther Ingram, Mack Rice
Producer(s)Pete Wingfield, the Kane Gang
The Kane Gang singles chronology
"Closest Thing to Heaven"
(1984)
"Respect Yourself"
(1984)
"Gun Law"
(1985)

In 1984, English pop trio the Kane Gang covered the song for their 1985 debut album The Bad and Lowdown World of the Kane Gang. Produced by Pete Wingfield and the band, it was released as the third single from the album. This version charted at number 19 in Australia[3] and number 21 in the UK.[4] The Kane Gang's version changes the lyric "If you don't give a heck about the man with the Bible in his hands" to "If you don't give a damn about the man with the Bible in his hands".

Bruce Willis version[edit]

"Respect Yourself"
Brucerespect.jpg
Single by Bruce Willis
from the album The Return of Bruno
B-side"Fun Time"
ReleasedDecember 1986
Recorded1986
GenrePop, soul
Length3:53
LabelMotown
Songwriter(s)Luther Ingram, Mack Rice
Producer(s)Robert Kraft
Bruce Willis singles chronology
"Respect Yourself"
(1986)
"Young Blood"
(1987)

In 1986, American actor Bruce Willis (as his fictitious alter-ego Bruno Radolini) began a short-lived singing career. Willis covered "Respect Yourself" for his 1987 album The Return of Bruno, a companion to the HBO special of the same name, which aired shortly after the album's release. Willis' version is based on the Kane Gang's version, sped up a bit. It also features backing vocals by the Pointer Sisters; June Pointer also sings a verse. It was produced by Robert Kraft, and charted in three different countries.

Robert Palmer version[edit]

"Respect Yourself"
Respect Yourself Robert Palmer.jpg
Single by Robert Palmer
Released1995
GenrePop, R&B
Length3:56
LabelEMI
Songwriter(s)Luther Ingram, Mack Rice
Robert Palmer singles chronology
"You Blow Me Away"
(1994)
"Respect Yourself"
(1995)
"True Love"
(1999)

In 1995, English singer Robert Palmer covered the song as a non-album single. Palmer's version reached number 45 in the UK[5] and number 170 in Australia.

Chart performance[edit]

Staple Singers' version[edit]

Chart (1971–72) Peak
position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[6] 17
US Billboard Hot 100[7] 12
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[8] 2

The Kane Gang's version[edit]

Chart (1984) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[3] 19
UK (OCC)[4] 21

Bruce Willis' version[edit]

Chart (1987) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[9] 57
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[10] 8
UK Singles (OCC)[11] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 5
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[13] 20
Year-end chart (1987) Position
US Top Pop Singles (Billboard)[14] 89

Robert Palmer's version[edit]

Chart (1995) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report) 170
UK (OCC)[15] 45

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone.com. Retrieved 2008-06-22.[dead link]
  2. ^ a b Myers, Marc (2016). Anatomy of a Song. Grove Press. pp. 202–209. ISBN 978-1-61185-525-8.
  3. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 163. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  4. ^ a b "KANE GANG - full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  5. ^ "Robert Palmer | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  6. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5298." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  7. ^ "The Staple Singers Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  8. ^ "The Staple Singers Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 340. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ Peaked on RPM 100 Singles Chart on March 7, 1987
  11. ^ "Bruce Willis: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  12. ^ "Bruce Willis Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  13. ^ "Bruce Willis Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  14. ^ "1987 The Year in Music & Video: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. 99 (52). December 26, 1987.
  15. ^ "Robert Palmer | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2022-01-14.