Mavis Staples – 1970 – Only for the Lonely

Main Review by Soulmakossa

 Rip, posting and additional info’s by Nikos

Recorded in 1969 and released the following year, Only for the Lonely was one of the best LPs Mavis Staples ever recorded. Staples’ energy, delivery, timing, and technique were consistently awesome. Unfortunately, only a few of these songs got much attention outside R&B circles, but their quality shows Staples’ greatness as a soul vocalist.

On Only The Lonely, Mavis Staples hits a newly sophisticated groove that’s set up in full arrangements from the great Horace Ott, and produced with a nicely sweet touch from Don Davis! The sound is a great example of the changes going on at the new Stax at the end of the 60s – a more mature, adult sort of sound that goes way beyond simple soul – especially the too-sweet style that sometimes dominated female acts during the Stax/Atlantic years. Ott’s backings have never sounded better, and at points Mavis almost brings an Aretha-like depth to her vocals – or even better, hits a range that really ranks right up there with some of the best indie female southern soul acts of her generation. 

A1 I Have Learned to Do Without You 4:09
A2 How Many Times 3:21
A3 Endlessly 3:08
A4 You’re the Fool 2:36
B1 Since I Fell for You 3:34
B2 What Happened to the Real Me 2:35
B3 Since You Became a Part of My Life 3:30
B4 It Makes Me Wanna Cry 2:50
B5 Don’t Change Me Now 2:25

Mavis’ second solo album for Stax Records, this time produced by Detroit soundsmith Don Davis. A beautifully crafted, tantalizingly sad LP focusing on longing, heartbreak and regret, with a few sparkles of hope nudged in between. 

Recorded in Muscle Shoals and ‘sweetened’ in Detroit, ‘Only for the Lonely’ is one of those luminary records that perfectly blends the grit of Southern Soul with the gloss of Detroit and Chicago. I Have Learned to Do Without You” is a fierce opener, a massive belter that exudes defiance in the face of let-downs and hang-ups. Mavis’ full-throttled gospelfide voice soars on this one. 

How Many Times” sustains the moody atmosphere, with its plodding, wistful pace and delicate lyrics. Nice country-esque guitar fills throughout. 
She then churns out a wonderful, gorgeous take on Brook Benton’s “Endlessly“, a bossa nova-styled ballad drenched in delightfully arranged strings. Things get a little funkier with the romping “You’re the Fool“, although the wailing horns and especially the weeping violins considerably smoothen the fatback groove. 
Buddy Johnson’s “Since I Fell for You” got little Mavis in trouble back in the day, when as a child she performed this decidedly secular song. She loved it even after the scoldin’, and included a warm version of it on this LP. 
But it’s back to the business of love gone wrong once more as she sings the achingly beautiful “What Happened to the Real Me“, an amazing, slightly Latin-tinted soul groove accentuated by the muted horn riffs. 

A simmering of hope, however, immediately appears in the guise of the lovely “Since You Became a Part of My Life“, which could best be described as a ‘soul waltz’; a touch of Vienna in rural Alabama. Amazing. 

Superbly talented Stax songwriter Homer Banks offered the mid-tempo soul stomper “It Makes Me Wanna Cry“, after which a sensitive, heart melting reading of “Don’t Change Me Now” aptly closes this incredible album. 

Maybe not an ‘official’ concept album, ‘Only for the Lonely’ is one of the most consistently appealing and soothing musical experiences for the broken hearted. 

Buy it


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  1. Monster says:

    Excellent. Happy New Year.

  2. brianbrora says:

    Many thanks for all the work you and the team put in to bring us this great music. Best wishes to all . Happy New Year!.

  3. Tobby says:

    Amazing record. Thank u.

  4. Jonah says:

    Nostalgia is sometimes needed for the future! Such an inspirational song.

  5. Lou says:

    Great one. thanks

  6. Leta says:

    Sing Mavis-Sing!!!

  7. Anne says:

    Real beautiful music……Ms. Mavis Staples, a legend who always deliver!!!

  8. mats says:

    thanx Nikos, I used to have a compliation cd with her early solo stuff. Very nice to get mp3 of the original album!

  9. Dan says:

    A very fine piece of Soul music. Great site.

  10. walter says:

    Wow! This is a mazing.

  11. Sam says:


  12. Les says:

    Never heard it before. Adorable.

  13. Joeboy says:

    Thanks Great post

  14. Jeff says:

    One of the greatest voices of all time–God bless you, Mavis Staples…keep on singing!

  15. Antonio says:

    Molto bello

  16. Ashley says:

    Still sound’s as fresh as ever.

  17. Dario says:

    The sound of soul we love.

  18. Roy says:

    wicked in every way possible

  19. Melissa says:

    First time ever hearing this, and it’s great. She really had a very soulful voice, which wasn’t heard often enough. Thanks for posting this lost gem!

  20. Arnold says:

    We love the staples and Mavis is great.

  21. Ryan says:

    Great great album. Thanks!

  22. Johnny says:

    While looking for a song I hadn’t heard for years I stumbled across your blog and I have had the best night ever. Re-living some special moments from my childhood and now being able to share these moments with my children has been very special….

    Thank you all for the amazing work in bringing these treasure’s back into my life

  23. There are not many soul singers from a Jewish background (and even Sammy Davis Jr was a convert to Judaism); one of the few is featured here: Ruby Johnson, who recorded on Stax with Isaac Hayes and David Porter.

  24. Rosanna says:

    Stole my heart away all right, Mavis. A modern classic.

  25. wes says:

    Another great one!

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