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4.9 out of 5 stars22
4.9 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 9 June 2007
Stax was responsible for the sound we have come to call Soul. Curiously for a Black Music institution, it's success was a result of a multi racial mix (Booker T and the MGs were 2 Black, 2 White for example), and there's plenty of evidence of the link between R & B and Country music in Stax output - those being the dominant musical genres in the South and especially Memphis.

If you are a Soul music fan, then you may have many of these tracks in your collection and be familiar with most, but put together like this, these 50 tracks leave no-one in any doubt that here was a musical phenemenon.

This is music from an era where the radio was king and getting a song played was the key to getting a hit record. In the early days, Stax perfected the art of producing songs that not only matched the 3 minute song format, but also had something to say - that was usually about love and loss, although you'll also find instrumentals and dance tunes.

The death of Otis Redding is often cited as a watershed for Stax. There were however, other factors which also forced the label to change. The licensing deal that had existed with Atlantic was discovered to have given the rights to all the Stax songs to Atlantic, which meant effectively, the label had no back catalogue. Add to that the increase in racial tension following the death of Martin Luther King and you had a set of circumstances which pushed Stax into a different direction, albeit one that would take a couple of years to become fully apparent.

So, this compilation journeys from "Gee Whiz" and it's innocence, through the emotion of Otis and his peers and on to the orchestral Soul of Isaac Hayes and the Civil Rights anthems of The Staple Singers, before something of a return to the roots with The Soul Children and Shirley Brown. It is journey you will find worth taking
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on 25 July 2008
If you are a serious Soul fan you will have most of these tracks already.
If you are a Music fan you will be familiar with most of the twenty or so Stax artist featured on this fifty track CD.
This is no Greatest Hits Collection (plenty of them here on Amazon)but a wonderful insight into one of the greatest Record Labels of the sixties and early seventies.
If you like Music, Soul Music, then this is a worthy addition to any CD Collection
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VINE VOICEon 28 April 2007
Would you believe that Stax started as a country label but through gospel almost inadvertently gained an interest in soul music. Not bad for a label that along with the more commercially popular Motown is the most influential in black music( Though you could throw in reggae labels like Trojan if you were feeling picky )It's initial success rooted from the deep South with it's heavy gospel influence ushered in one revolution in black music but after the death of Otis Redding in 1967 and the disbanding of Sam & Dave, the label marshalled a new brand of soul all over again led by Isaac Hayes. It ,s this ability to adapt and innovate that makes this such an important label , as well as the brilliant music of course.

Jim Stewart along with Estelle Axton founded the label in Memphis as "Satellite " records but it wasn't till 1961 that the label achieved it's first top ten hit with the gospel harmonies of "Gee Whiz( Look At His Eyes)" by Carla Thomas. It was the formation of it's in house rhythm section Booker T & the MG,s that really nailed the Stax sound . The horn section , which later became The Memphis horns , provided brassy backing, funked up and slinky, and their three tracks-"Green Onions " , Soul Limbo" (Or the cricket music as it was known in my formative years) and "Time Is Tight"- on this fifty track compilation are instantly recognisable classics .

The emergence of Otis Redding , a singer of truly outstanding emotive talent , gave the label further credence , not to mention some of the songs he wrote -"Respect" and the ever superb "(Sittin On) The Dock Of The Bay"- a song that still gives me goose bumps bigger than maltesers. Add to that the emollient tones of Sam & Dave , the bluesy Albert King , and the graceful ballads of William Bell and the label had a formidable array of talent .

Even after Booker T & the MG,s influence waned, at least on the playing side( the band did more administrative work than session playing as the sixties merged into the seventies) the label under the guidance of Al Bell continued to prosper and not just that either. Former songwriter, producer and session player Isaac Hayes became an artist in his own right mixing up funk , jazz , soul and mellifluous easy listening to startling and groundbreaking effect . The albums "Shaft" ( Which kick started the blaxploitation movement and meant Stax became central to black America's disenchantment with society and those in power ) and "Hot Buttered Soul" ( A work of genius which should be in any albums to hear before you die list) sold millions of copies . Then there were The Staples Singers commercial gospel sound , the close knit harmonies of Mel & Tim, the more classic Stax Soul Children and oddities like the swinging irreducible "Mr Big Stuff".

Something went badly wrong somewhere however , as the label was declared bankrupt in 1975 amid allegations of financial corruption and mis-management. In 1977 all Stax,s assets , including all contracts and masters were purchased by a group who then licensed "Fantasy" records to handle all Stax product (as they put it) It may be product to some but to most , it's timeless evocative brilliance and it's good to know that their artists and legacy is still being appreciated today and that's why this release is the least this defining label deserves.
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on 30 May 2014
I won't elaborate too much. Basically if you like REAL soul music or you're not sure what it actually is then get this. Otis, Booker T and the MG's, William Bell, Carla Thomas, Isaac Hayes, you get the picture, plus some stuff I wasn't too familiar with. I know I probably sound old but soul is one thing sadly lacking in most singers today. Maybe they should all buy a copy of this!
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on 6 November 2012
A good mix of songs. Very easy to listen to. Played it whilst decorating, helped make the time fly by.
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on 16 June 2015
Even though I already had several of the tracks, I'm glad I bought it.It is a very complete compilation. I was lucky enough to have visited the Stax recording studio in Memphis last year. I had an absolutely amazing day. Would highly recommend both the CD and a visit.
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on 10 July 2015
Was very disappointed with the choice of track's on both CD's.
Missed some great stax track's like Sam and Dave soothe me and others but expected a lot better than what was on gave it a 5/10.
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on 13 October 2014
A great sampling from the golden age of a classic soul/r&b label. I am no expert on this music but this is a fantastic introduction.
More than worth the price.
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on 14 August 2015
Marvellous , music of my youth not a dud track anywhere to be found.never off in the car.even tracked down 3 tracks in their original 45s for framing.
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on 19 August 2013
A great compilation of the finest tracks off the legendary Stax record label... don't hesitate just buy people, you wont regret it!
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