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Stax-Volt Complete Soul Singles 3: 72-75
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Blues, Special Interest, Pop, R&B, Rock
This 10-CD box set features all 213 soul singles released by Stax/Volt in this period (1972-1975) are contained in Volume 3, which like the previous compilations features a panoply of big hits as well as a surprising nu... more »
This 10-CD box set features all 213 soul singles released by Stax/Volt in this period (1972-1975) are contained in Volume 3, which like the previous compilations features a panoply of big hits as well as a surprising number of undeservedly obscure gems. Stax historian (and box co-producer) Rob Bowman tells the whole story in his 47,000-word essay. And the last word on the subject is The Memphis Sound lives. Artists include Eddie Floyd, Albert King, The MG's, The Emotions, Black Nasty, Major Lance, Katie Love, Inez Foxx, The Bar-Kays and many more. The discs are housed in a oversized deluxe box (approx. 12 x 12 x 1 1/2). 1994.
Stax: Still so soulful to the finish!
Josh P. | 01/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"By 1972, Stax had proved that it could carry on and be just as strong as it was during its first golden era when Otis Redding was its principal star. The label from '68-'71, as chronicled in the second box, enjoyed a greater multitude of success, new acts, and experimented with new sounds to keep up with the changing times, both socially and musically, but it still stuck to its gritty and raw roots that made Stax what it was; it was that Southern flavor with the exposure of blues and gospel coming through strong. It was the antithesis of Motown's polish and refinement. Here, the Stax sound was laced with bass guitar, simple yet funky drum licks, oozing organ, and a tight horn section. At this point, where this third set documents, it was all that but with many different ensembles(whether they were in Detroit, Muscle Shoals, or at their own McLemore studios there in Memphis) giving their own take on that trademark Southern sound.
At 10 CDs and 213 tracks, this set covers the latter-most era as Stax moves from just before its biggest triumph at its own sponsered music festival, Wattstax, to its unfortunate downfall in bankruptcy. As Stax was reaping the rewards of success in the summer of '72, Stax was placed in the distributional hands of CBS, a major player in popular music, to which hopefully Stax could acheive the once-and-for-all monumental household-name status of that of Motown. With Stax over-spending, certain people not being careful enough with money, and with CBS supposedly over-ordering, warehousing and holding back funds on Stax product, the deal went sour and Stax became racked with debts that would ultimately force them into a shutdown in late fall 1975.
Despite that kind of story that went behind the scenes of these fantastic recordings, none of that seems to cloud the atmosphere of the music. The silky smooth and raw funky '70s sounds of R&B are brought forth quite well. It is, as always with Stax, the stuff to get your groove on with!
Longtime Stax veterans Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Rufus Thomas, and Johnnie Taylor still enjoy some success, particularly the latter-most mentioned with his hits like "I Believe In You" (disc 4), "Cheaper To Keep Her" (disc 5), and "I've Been Born Again" (disc 7), and "Doin' My Own Thing" (disc 1) which is a return to his roots in blues. Rufus continues his string of dance singles like "Itch and Scratch" (disc 3), "Funky Robot" (disc 4) and "Boogie Ain't Nothin' But Gettin' Down" (disc 8), William Bell providing soul-soaked ballads like "Lovin' On Borrowed Time" (disc 4), and "Getting What You Want" (disc 7), and Eddie Floyd, who in my opinion, had the most fun-sounding repertoire such as "Yum Yum Yum (I Want Some)" (disc 1, the opener), "Soul Street" (disc 8), "Baby Lay Your Head Down" (reggae-sounding, disc 5), and "I Got A Reason To Smile" (disc 9). There are too many great songs to mention, as is the case with all the artists, and it's even a shame when looking at the list of singles that failed to hit the charts, because some have loads of potential. Take the Bessie Banks cut on disc 9, "Try To Leave Me If You Can"; that is such a sumptuous performance.
Other artists that slowly watched their careers at Stax dwindle down during this time is Carla Thomas (everything from her is great), the Bar-Kays (same), and Isaac Hayes (same again, check out his only vocal duet with David Porter on disc 2). Yet amidst some of the older acts seeing less and less activity in the output, many of the other artists continued to thrive along with new acts trying to get their names across. The Staple Singers are among Stax's most successful vocal groups as well as the Dramatics, the Emotions and the Soul Children along side Stax newbies Frederick Knight, Mel & Tim, Sandra Wright, Veda Brown, and Shirley Brown. Blues men Albert King and Little Milton continue to contrubute to the bluesy side of Stax while soul men and women you don't normally associate with Stax cut a few sides like Brook Benton, Inez Foxx, the Sweet Inspirations, and even fromer Motown star Kim Weston.
If none of the other sets really consumed you musically and emotionally through its feeling and lyrics, this one will. The lyrics reveal the honesty and sometimes intensity of what every human being experiences. Read near the beginning of the booklet where it says "Guts"; that about sums it all up.
Though this was Stax's closing years, it was more diversified than ever with its roster and with its genres of music that it branched out on. Not every single that Stax issued is here, hence the name "Stax/Volt Soul" singles. The rock group the Gentrys ("Keep On Dancing"), cut some sides with Stax, but they are not here. If that were the case, goodness knows how many more discs this one could have spawned if it covered rock, country, jazz and gospel; Rance Allen does not appear either. Not very many B-sides are included, but these are perhaps minor quibbles. This third box, like its predecessors, suits very well in telling the story of what Stax was all about. Rob Bowman's notes are very fun to read and very enlightening. Yet, every time it's still confusing as to what the root cause of what made Stax's mightiness cave in. The simple answer is that Stax became the victim of a hostile takeover, but that did not diminish the quality of the music and its soul. Enjoy the closing chapter of the story of a landmark record company that taught America that soul was in everyone."