Monday, 4 June 2018

The Complete Stax Singles Volume Three (1972-1975)


Just as with Volumes One and Two, the sound on these Stax remastered box sets is SUPERB - full, bassy and warm and (thankfully) mostly in stereo. We are fully in the era of stereo by now and the sound quality on most of the recordings is truly excellent. While Volume One is still prohibitively expensive, Volumes Two and Three are not so. Certainly they can be downloaded quite economically, or indeed, the tracks can be "cherry picked" individually. Good luck with that, though, there is so much that is good on here. There is so much good stuff that you find yourself discovering new nuggets every time you listen. A great way of doing this is by digitally shuffling the whole box. I just did this. This first one up - It Ain't Always What You Do (It's Who You Let See Do It) by The Soul Children. What a funked up soulful treat. I never knew it existed until I bought this box set, ditto the next one up - Rufus Thomas's Do The Double Bump. The goodies don't stop. Sure, the quality tails off a bit come 1975 but even then there are new listens to be enjoyed, even just the once or twice.

Although the other box sets contain some wonderful material, there is a case for saying that the years 72-74 (75 is also covered here) saw the release of some of the best material from this seminal Southern soul label. Having said that 68-71 isn't half bad either. Probably 68-73 contained all of the best stuff.

The material here is very much in the more laid back "soul" category, as opposed to the more poppy Motown and Atlantic-style songs that typified the the mid to late sixties. Funk is also making its presence felt and contemporary dance crazes like "the Bump". The blues is still there, however, Albert King and Little Milton in particular. Even a bit of Northern Soul in Annette Thomas's Nothing Is Everlasting. Those wonderful Stax horns still predominate, however.

Stand out artists in this period were the wonderful Staple Singers (two iconic ones here, If You're Ready (Come Go With Me) and I'll Take You There, Isaac Hayes, Eddie Floyd, The Emotions, Mel & Tim (Starting All Over Again), Rufus Thomas, Motown refugee Kim Weston and William Bell. Unfortunately, instrumental kings, Booker T. & The MGs are no more by now. Rather than go through the box, disc by disc, here are some personal highlights:-

Hearsay - The Soul Children
Which Way Did It Go - Roebuck "Pops" Staples
Crosscut Saw - Albert King
Woman To Woman - Shirley Brown
Do Your Thing - Isaac Hayes
Starting All Over Again - Mel & Tim
If You're Ready (Come Go With Me) - The Staple Singers
Don't Start Loving Me (If You're Gonna Stop) - Veda Brown
Do Me - Jean Knight
I'll Take You There - The Staple Singers
Joy (Part One) - Isaac Hayes
This Is My Song Of Love To You - Frederick Knight
Do The Double Bump - Rufus Thomas
Goodness Gracious - Kim Weston
I'm Gonna Cry A River - Little Milton
Boom A Rang - Soul Machine
Sugarcane - Mg (an instrumental)
I Can't Let You Go - Hot Sauce
Get It While It's Hot - William Bell
Nothing Is Everlasting - Annette Thomas
Packed Up And Took My Mind - Little Milton
The Time - Inez Foxx
It Ain't Always What You Do (It's Who You Let See Do It) - The Soul Children


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