Top positive review
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The Premier Soul label
on 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