MEMPHIS STEW…Stax Singles, Volume 4: Rarities & The Best of the Rest

This 6 cd set is the fourth volume of the invaluable cache released by Stax Records, commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the legendary label. Instead of re-issuing the standard hits by Otis  Redding, Isaac Hayes and Booker T Jones, this collection digs deeper into the recesses of the gold mine, coming up with obscure treasures that most people may not even know exist. Grab a miner’s cap with a head light and hang on!

You get this time around well known artists such as The Staples Singers and Johnnie Taylor, but the real surprises are things like an entire disc reserved for the under-appreciated gospel side of STAX. Pieces by The Dixie Nightingales (“Wade in the Water”), “The Jubilee Hummingbirds (“Press My Dying Pillow”) as well as The Pattersonaires (“God’s Promise”) are spiritual surprises, while the Reverend W. Bernard Avant Jr wails on “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You.” YEAH!

This set also includes some surprises with jazz icons trying to crossover into to soul/pop field. Baritone vocalist Billy Eckstine croons on “When Something Is Wrong” and “I Wanna Be Your Baby” and even Chico Hamilton brings his jazz drumsticks to Memphis with “Conquistadores ’74.” Even some country twang and bona fide blues from the early STAX days get a chance to be better appreciated.
Obscure B sides by Booker T & The MGs produce “Soul Clap ‘69” and “Over Easy” and The Bark-Kays bring in their horns for a clever read of “I Thank You.” Artists such as Big Star, Jean Knight, Don Nix and the Rance Allen Group get another chance at being evaluated with pieces like “Black Cat Moan” “I Gotta Be Myself” and “Pick Up The Pieces” making you wonder why you never were hipped to these earlier.
A definite Whitman’s sampler of soulful joy. Enjoy the bites!

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