OTIS REDDING, SAM & DAVE, ETC…Soulsville U.S.A.: A Celebration of Stax

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the birth of STAX Records, Concord has put together a tidy 3 disc set the covers the highlights of the celebrated label.

What set STAX apart from other labels such as Motown was the swampy roots feel. They didn’t sound pretentious or pretty; they made you feel like you were in a sweaty juke joint. The house band, Booker T. and the MGs, are the backup for almost all of these great hits, and there are a lot of them.

As for Booker T’s band, they get their due with a few tunes like “Hip Hug-her” and the absolutely timeless “Green Onions” and cruiser “Time is Tight.” Otis Redding is handled with his first and last hits, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and his posthumously released “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” Preachers that hit the secular route include Johnny Taylor on “Who’s Making Love” and the Staples Singers with “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me).”

As far as surviving the trends, this collection ranges from doo wop such as Carla Thomas’ “Gee Whiz” to R&B stompers such as “Knock on Wood” by Eddie Floyd. Vintage soul includes Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man” and you’re taken all the way through the disc craze with The Dramatics’ “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” with the relentless wacka wooka guitar on Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft” theme still sounding as hip as wide wale chords.  Best of all is the tune guaranteed to get the party started, Rufus Thomas’ “Do the Funky Chicken” which will have your arms flying in no time. This one reminds you of the time when music could be fun as well as funky. What happened?


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