I’ll Play The Blues For You by Albert King

June 30, 2012

Albert King (1923-92) was one of the “kings” of the blues, along with B.B. and Freddie. His recording career began during 1962 and continued until his death in 1992. His most creative and commercially success period took place during his time signed to Stax Records, 1966-75. The eight studio albums released during his time with the label added up to one of the better catalogues of blues music in history.

The Concord Music Group has just resurrected one of his key albums, I’ll Play the Blues for You, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The album’s sound has been enhanced with 24-bit remastering, new liner notes by music historian Bill Dahl, plus four previously unreleased bonus tracks. He was backed by the post-Otis Redding Bar-Kays, The Movement (which supported Isaac Hayes), and the Memphis Horns.

The album was a unique mixture of hardcore blues and the funky grooves that were associated with the Stax label. Through it all, King delivered some of the smoothest vocals of his career.

The title track was a seven minute song that epitomized the release. It was a steady-building blues classic, combining his blues guitar play against the funk of The Movement and the clear blasts of the Memphis Horns. He added an extended monologue that united the two sections of the song. The track remained one of King’s signature songs the rest of his career.

“Angel Of Mercy” was a lesson in the art of slow blues. His pile-driving guitar lines just bludgeon the listener. Ann Peebles hit version of “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” came to the attention of King, who took the song in a different direction as he turned it into a minor-key blues classic. “I’ll Be Doggone” was a huge hit for Marvin Gaye. They probably should have left out the overdubbed crowd response but his forceful version, right out of the Motown songbook, showed why rhythm and blues are words that go hand in hand. “Answer to the Laundromat Blues” was a sequel to his 1966 “Laundromat Blues.” The lyrics are somewhat dated, but the in-your-face guitar work is eternal.

Sometimes bonus tracks add little to a release, but the material included here is just about worth the price of admission by themselves. There is a stripped down version of “Don’t Burn Down the Bridge” minus the horns, plus an alternate performance of “I’ll Play the Blues for You,” with a different horn arrangement and no spoken interlude.

The other two bonus tracks are “I Need a Love,” a frenetic upbeat tune with the horns blasting away and an ominous vocal holding the song together, and the instrumental, “Albert’s Stomp,” which is more funky than bluesy.

I’ll Play the Blues for You presents Albert King at his best. It remains one of the important blues album releases from the early 1970s.

Article first published as Music Review: Albert King – I’ll Play the Blues for You [Remastered & Expanded] on Blogcritics.

Whatcha See is Whatcha Get by The Dramatics

September 29, 2011

The Concord Music Group has been reissuing classic albums from the extensive catalogue of the Stax label. Their latest three releases, issued September 13th, are Do The Funky Chicken by Rufus Thomas, Woman To Woman by Shirley Brown, and the subject of this review, Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get by The Dramatics.

Stax was a gritty soul label, originally located in Memphis, Tennessee. It was founded by Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton, who used the first two letters of their last names to form the name Stax. It featured funk, blues, and a hardcore rhythm & blues sound. Some of the artists who graced the label were Booker T. & The MG’s, Sam & Dave, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, and The Dramatics

Stax vice president Al Bell decided to expand the label’s roster and national appeal by bringing in talent from different parts of the country. One of the new additions was Detroit producer Don Davis, who was brought in to work with Carla Thomas and Johnnie Taylor. He brought along the Detroit vocal group, The Dramatics. Several years later, they would release their debut album for the label.

The Dramatics were and are a rhythm & blues vocal group formed during 1962. After releasing several failed singles during the early and mid-1960’s, they grabbed the brass ring when they signed with the Stax label. Their debut album, Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get, was the best and most commercially successful of their career. It also containe their two biggest selling and most popular singles. The title track (which reached number 9 on the pop charts and number 3 on the R&B charts) and “In The Rain” (number five on the pop charts and a number one R&B single) were among the best of the era.

The title song had impeccable and creative arrangements. The group members alternated singing lead on each line. It was an R&B tune, but it looked ahead to the coming disco movement in a good way. A fuzz sound on the lead guitar, plus horns and strings all served to make it memorable. “Get Up And Get Down” was more of the same as the vocal interplay was again different and creative.

Their biggest hit, “In The Rain,” was more atmospheric. The sound of rain falling plus the guitar wizardry of Dennis Coffey in conjunction with the strings all added to the song’s dramatic effect.

The original release contained eight tracks, but this reissue is over twice as long as it adds ten bonus tracks. They consist of singles and some of their better material from follow-up albums. The best track is “Hey You Get Off My Mountain,” which marked Ron Banks debut as lead singer. “Fell For You” marked the first appearance of L. J. Reynolds, who not only shared the vocal lead but would go on to become an important part of the group.

When the Stax label folded, The Dramatics went on to a long and successful career with the ABC and MCA labels.

Unfortunately, time did not treat the members kindly. Original members Ron Banks, William Howard, Elbert Wilkin, and 1973 replacement Lenny Mayes all died of heart problems before the age of 60. Original member Willie Ford and L.J. Reynolds continue to record and tour down to the present day.

Their crowning achievement has now reached its 40th birthday. Watcha See Is Whatcha Get remains one of the better rhythm & blues albums of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and it’s nice to have it back in print in a remastered form.

Woman To Woman by Shirley Brown

September 26, 2011

The Concord Music Group has been reissuing original albums from the legendary Stax catalogue. The idea to reissue these rather than compilation albums is sound, as it gives the listener a look into the mind and music of the individual artists at a certain point in time, rather than just an overview of their careers. Shirley Brown’s classic album Woman To Woman is one of the latest releases in the ongoing series.

Brown was discovered at the age of 14 by blues legend Albert King. She would go on to tour with his band for nine years. After beginning her recording career with the small Abet label during 1972, upon King’s recommendation, she was signed to the Stax label during 1974.

The Stax label of 1974 was on the verge of bankruptcy, and it would shortly be gone. Brown’s single, “Woman To Woman” was the last big hit for the label, or to be more correct, for their subsidiary Truth label as it reached the top of the Billboard Magazine Rhythm & Blues Chart and number 22 on their Pop Charts. It sold over one million copies during the first eight weeks of its release.

Woman To Woman was an emotional experience from the first to last track. The title song (and single) remains the centerpiece of the album. There is a spoken word introduction that immediately demands your attention. The song is a conversation from one woman to another about infidelity. It included a sparse rhythm track that kept the focus squarely on the vocal.

The rest of the album’s nine tracks all have something to recommend them. “It Ain’t No Fun” would have been right at home in a smoky blues lounge. “So Glad To Have You” is a song that has just about a perfect groove. “Passion” and “I Need You Tonight” ramped up the album’s emotional level.

In addition to the music undergoing a 24-bit remastering process, it also comes with new liner notes and five bonus tracks. The best of the extra material was a previously unreleased cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours.” Other bonus tracks included “Yes Sir Bother,” “Ain’t No Way,” “Respect,” and “Rock Steady.”

She surrounded herself with some of the best session musicans that the Stax label had to offer. Drummer Al Jackson Junior, guitarist Bobby Manuel, bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn, pianist Marvell Thomas, organist Lester Snell, and The Memphis Horns provided the instrumental backing.

Brown remains popular on the southern soul circuit, but her studio album output has been limited to seven during the course of her almost 40-year recording career. The highlight remains Woman To Woman, which was also one of the best R&B albums of its era.

Article first published as Music Review: Shirley Brown – Woman To Woman (Original Recording Remastered) on Blogcritics.

Do The Funky Chicken by Rufus Thomas

September 12, 2011

The Concord Music Group has been re-issuing classic albums from the extensive catalogue of the Stax label. Their latest three releases, due September 13, are Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get by The Dramatics, Woman To Woman by Shirley Brown, and the subject of this review, Do The Funky Chicken by Rufus Thomas.

Stax was a gritty soul label, originally located in Memphis, Tennessee. It was founded by Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton who used the first two letters of their last names to form the name. It featured funk and a hard core rhythm & blues sound. Some of the artists who graced the label were Booker T. & The M.G.’s, Sam & Dave, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, The Dramatics, Carla Thomas, and Rufus Thomas.

He was born in Cayce, Mississippi, March 27, 1917. He began his music career during 1936 and made his first recordings during 1943. His most famous early recording was “Bear Cat” for the Sun label in 1953. It was an answer song to Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog.” Until he began producing hits for Stax, he worked 22 years in a textile factory.

His career with Stax can be divided into two parts. His 1963-1964 singles received extensive radio airplay, and many appeared on the Billboard Magazine pop and rhythm & blues charts. His 1963 album, Walking The Dog, was one of the most successful of his career. Then for five years, the commercial success just about came to a halt. During 1969, he recorded the album, May I Have Your Ticket Please, which Stax did not even release.

He was in his early 50s when he began his comeback. “Do The Funky Chicken,” both the album and the single, remain the most memorable of his career. He was backed by members of The Bar-kays. The album now returns with 24-bit remastering, eight bonus tracks, and new liner notes which place the music in its historical context.

The title track was his setting to music a dance that had begun in Chicago. It became the highlight of his stage act until the end of his life. It basically is a dance that is set to rhythms, resulting in a style of rhythm & blues that would become popular during the 1970s.

Two cover songs were highlights of the original album. “Sixty Minute Man” was one of the first big R&B crossover hits, originally recorded by Billy Ward and His Dominoes during 1951. It was an important song in the formation of rock ‘n’ roll. Thomas gave it a playful rendition, which given its fairly explicit sexual lyrics, was made for him. As with much of his material from this time period, it was a fun-filled romp. “The Preacher and The Bear” was one of the biggest hit records of the early 20th century, selling two-million copies for Arthur Collins. Thomas took this old minstrel song and modernized it by adding rhythms, varying the tempo, and giving it a humorous feel.

Other highlights included a re-working of his own “Bear Cat,” the standard, “Let The Good Times Roll,” and a cover of an obscure Dallas Frazier song, “Soul Food.” His two-part arrangement of “Old McDonald Had A Farm” was unique and brilliant. The first part was a slow, smoldering gospel take, while part two was a up-tempo dance number.

The bonus tracks are centered around the A and B sides of four of his singles. “Funky Mississippi/So Hard To Get Along With,” (1968), “Funky Way/I Want To Hold You” (1969), “Itch and Scratch Part 1/Part 2” (1971), and “Boogie Ain’t Nuttin’ (But Gettin’ Down)/Part 2” (1974) would have made a excellent album themselves and provide a good look into the evolution of his sound and style.

Rufus Thomas passed away December 15, 2001, at the age of 84. He left behind a funky and fun-filled catalogue of well-crafted material. Do The Funky Chicken is a fine introduction to his music and a good look into one of the seminal funk recordings of the early 1970s.

Article first published as Music Review: Rufus Thomas – Do The Funky Chicken (Remastered) on Blogcritics.

Be Altitude by The Staple Singers

May 10, 2011

Mavis, Cleotha, Yvonne, and Roebuck “Pops” Staples began their recording career during the early 1950s by producing some of the best post World War II gospel of the era. The first half of the 1960s found them fusing folk and soul into a creative blend. The third and most successful part of their career began with their signing to the Stax label during the fall of 1968.

Their early releases for Stax were creative but for the most part commercially unsuccessful. During 1971 they decided to leave the house band and studios in Memphis behind to record in Muscle Shoals, using their musicians. The result was one of the most influential soul/R&B albums of the decade.

Be Altitude combined elements of gospel and funky soul with Jamaican rhythms into a mix that was unique and creative. Mavis’ vocals were raw and emotional as they conveyed messages of hope, respect, and peace during an era when such messages were sorely needed.

The Muscle Shoals musicians may not have been as well known as their Memphis counterparts but they were just as talented. Lead guitarist Eddie Hinton, rhythm guitarist Jimmy Johnson, bassist David Hood, keyboardist Barry Beckett, and drummer Roger Hawkins laid down some of the best tracks of their career. The surprise was engineer Terry Manning, who played a Moog synthesizer and electric slide guitar, which were unique additions for releases by the Stax label.

The album’s most memorable track is the Number One pop and rhythm & blues hit “I’ll Take You There.” Straight out of the Southern Baptist gospel tradition by way of the Caribbean, it has a call-and-response chorus along with the pure funk of Hinton’s lead guitar runs. Mavis grunts, groans, and sings her way to a memorable performance.

“Respect Yourself” was an anthem of self-empowerment during the post-Civil Rights movement. There is a subtle fuzz guitar sound that makes the song work. Also, the track has some nice tempo changes that are accentuated by the vocals.

“This Old Town (People In This Town)” was another idealistic song that sounds somewhat dated today. Its theme was that there are no differences between people, and peace was on the way. This was in the middle of the Vietnam War with all its political unrest at home. It was a gentle song of harmony that ran counterpoint to the volume of anti-war material that was being produced at the time.

The album is strong from beginning to end. Tracks such as “This World,” “We Are People,” “”Who Do You Think You Are (Jesus Christ The Superstar)” and “I’m Just Another Soldier” are all representative of Southern soul (and its variations) at its best.

This reissue comes with two bonus tracks. “Walking In Water Over Our Head” has a thunderous bass line by David Hood and some string arrangements. Mavis’ vocals were an overdubbed composite, which is another unique event in the Stax catalogue. “Heavy Makes You Happy” is an unreleased alternate track recorded during 1970. The released version featured an electric piano as the lead instrument but here it is Hinton’s guitar. The vocals also have a live feel.

The sound has been remastered from the original tapes and has a clarity that has been missing from previous releases. As well, the included liner notes provide a nice history of the album.

Be Altitude is not just a relic of the early 1970s but one of the masterpieces from one of the most influential rhythm & blues of their time. An essential and exciting release.

Article first published as Music Review: The Staple Singers – Be Altitude on Blogcritics.

Taylored In Silk by Johnnie Taylor

May 7, 2011

Taylored In Silk by Johnnie Taylor is the second of the three initial releases of the Concord Music Group’s new reissue series, Stax Remasters. They are focusing on individual releases rather than compilation albums.

Johnnie Taylor (1934-2000) began his career during the mid-1950s as the third of three legendary singers for the gospel group, The Highway HQ’s. He replaced Lou Rawls, who had replaced Sam Cooke. His big career break occurred when he signed with the Stax Records label in 1966. He would remain with the label until it ceased operation in 1975. During his time there, he created one of the best soul and R&B discographies of the era.

Taylor was a recognized star when he went into the studio to record 1973’s Taylored In Silk. It would become one of his signature albums.

Taylor would depart from the norm at the Stax label and not record the album at their studios on McLemore Avenue in Memphis, TN. This would mean he did not use their noted house musicians as well. The majority of the album was recorded in Muscle Shoals with such musicians as keyboardist Barry Beckett, guitarist Jimmy Johnson, bassist David Hood, and drummer Roger Hawkins. The strings and horns were dubbed in at a later date. Taylor then added his smooth vocals. While the process was somewhat disjointed, it all added up to a smooth and polished album.

Taylor was able to appeal to a cross section of music fans. He placed dozens of singles on both the R&B and pop charts. “I Believe In You (You Believe In Me)” is a laid back, mid-tempo track. It combined flutes and strings with the lyrics of eternal love. “Cheaper To Keep Her” has a pulsating bass foundation and cynical lyrics, as the title would suggest.

“We’re Getting Careless With Our Love” contains an emotional and sexual vocal that translates the raw lyrics of cheating. Near the end, he slips in a clever mention of Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones.”

He also raided the Stax vaults for a number of cover songs. Mel & Tim’s “Starting All Over Again” is a classic soul ballad with a simple but silky vocal. He turns Little Willie John’s “Talk To Me” into a full-blown, over the top classic, complete with strings, horns, and female backing singers. His interpretation of Dinah Washington’s “The Bitter Earth” has a smoky lounge feel.

There are six bonus tracks that formed the A and B sides of three of his singles issued near the same time as the album. “Hijackin’ Love”/”Love In The Streets (Ain’t Good As Love At Home),” “Standing In For Judy”/”Shackin’ Up,” and “Doing My Own Thing (Part 1)”/”Doing My Own Thing (Part 2)” are all representative of his sound at the time and makes a superior album better. The best of the three is the two-part “Doing My Own Thing,” which settles into a nice brassy blues groove.

The sound of all three releases in the series is clean and pristine, as they were remastered from the original tapes. The accompanying booklet gives a nice overview of Taylor’s life, career, and the album’s recording process.

Johnnie Taylor is a sometimes forgotten star of the 1970s and 1980s. Taylored In Silk is a superb introduction to his music and is well worth adding to your music collection.

Article first published as Music Review: Johnnie Taylor – Taylored In Silk on Blogcritics.

McLemore Avenue by Booker T. & The MG’s

May 2, 2011

The Concord Music Group is launching the Stax Remasters Series. It will consist of individual albums originally issued by Stax Records, which given the caliber of the artists who recorded for the label and the quality of their work, should make for an excellent set of releases. The first three artists to appear are The Staple Singers, Johnnie Taylor, and the subject of this review, Booker T. & The MG’s.

Booker T. & The MG’s was formed during the early 1960’s by members of the Stax house band. Keyboardist Booker T. Jones, bassist Lewie Steinberg, who was quickly replaced by Donald “Duck” Dunn, drummer Al Jackson, and guitarist Steve Cropper, would back such artists as Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, The Staple Singers, plus dozens more.

In between backing gigs, they began recording together. Their first hit was 1962’s “Green Onions,” which topped the American R&B charts and reached number three on the pop charts. Seventeen more chart singles followed as would millions of albums sold.

The Beatles released Abbey Road October 1, 1969 in the United States. Booker T. Jones bought the album shortly afterward and decided to issue a soulful and instrumental interpretation of the music. He immediately had Jackson and Dunn lay down the rhythm tracks with Cropper adding his guitar parts a couple of weeks later. McLemore Avenue was released during January of 1970 and remains one of the more creative, excellent, and fascinating interpretations of Beatles music ever released. The title comes from the street where the Stax label was located.

The original album consisted of three extended medleys and one stand-alone song. “Something” was the only individual track and was released as the album’s only single. It begins traditionally but then goes off in a soulful, improvisational direction.

The first medley clocks in at close to 16 minutes, combining most of Abbey Road’s best known tracks, “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End/Here Comes the Sun/Come Together” into one long, meandering and funky ode to The Beatles. While Booker’s keyboards are the dominant instruments, Cropper’s guitar work on “The End” and “Come Together” is pure Memphis R&B and gives the songs a very different flavor from their British rock origins, as he bends the notes far differently than did George Harrison on the originals.

Side two of the original vinyl release began with the seven-minute fusion of “Because” and “You Never Give Me Your Money.” This is my least favorite of the four tracks, probably because it is the least creative. Jones’ organ is somewhat overbearing and takes the overall sound a little too close to being easy listening.

Most interesting of all is the 10-minute union of “Sun King/Mean Mr. Mustard/Polythene Pam/She Came In Through The Bathroom Window/I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The connectors that fuse the songs together are short, brilliant bursts of energy by Cropper and Jones, proving that which is brief can also be highly creative.

If you are keeping track, four songs — “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” “Octopus’s Garden,” “Oh! Darling,” and “Her Majesty” — are not covered.

The CD comes with requisite bonus tracks, which are all Beatles covers taken from different periods of Booker T. & The MG’s career. “Day Tripper,” “Michelle,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Lady Madonna,” and two versions of “You Can’t Do That” complete the band’s Beatles catalogue.

The sound is clear as the music has undergone 24-bit remastering. The liner notes are excellent as they provide a nice history of the music and recording process.

McLemore Avenue is a soulful delight and an essential listening experience, as it takes the music of The Beatles in a unique direction. Best of all, as an instrumental album, the music stands on its own, even though it has been moved from its original form. This CD is a worthwhile addition to any music collection.

Article first published as Music Review: Booker T. & The MG’s – McLemore Avenue on Blogcritics.

Stax Number Ones by Various Artists

April 10, 2010

The Stax record label existed between 1961 and 1975 as the main soul and rhythm & blues rival of Motown. Located in Memphis, they produced a grittier, funkier sound than the impeccably produced Motown material. My apologies to Marvin Gaye as his sound was the big Motown exception to this statement.

The Stax catalog has been passed around during the past 35 years, but in 2004 The Concord Record Group gained control and began issuing various compilation albums. Stax Number Ones is the latest of these and represents the best of the label’s legacy.

The Stax label placed 175 songs on The Billboard Magazine Hot 100 pop charts and an amazing 275 on the R&B charts. This CD release gathers the fifteen that reached number one on either chart. As such, it presents the elite of sixties and seventies soul music.

Otis Redding placed dozens of songs on the charts between 1963 and 1967. On December 7, 1968 he went into the studio and recorded “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay.” Three days later he was killed in a plane crash. His song would spend a month on top of the National charts in The United States and rates as one of the top ten soul performances of all time. If you want to explore the history of American rhythm & blues this is one of the songs to visit.

Sam and Dave placed two songs on the album. “Soul Man” and “Hold On! I’m Coming” were big crossover hits and had more of a pop feel than the usual Stax fare. The use of brass during “Soul Man” is Memphis soul at its best.

Interestingly, it is Johnnie Taylor who is the only artist to have three number ones included on the album. “I Believe In You (You Believe In Me),” “Jody’s Got Your Girl and Gone” and his huge cross over hit “Who’s Making Love” helped define the funky soul sound. His biggest hit, “Disco Lady,” released after the label’s demise, would top the pop charts for four weeks.

Isaac Hayes is represented by his chart topping “Theme From Shaft” which would also win The Oscar for best song. “Green Onions” was the first release by Booker T, & The MG’s. They were a rare early sixties interracial band featuring keyboardist Booker T. Jones, legendary guitarist Steve Cropper, and bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn. This instrumental remains instantly recognizable.

When you add such tracks as “Knock On Wood” by Eddie Floyd, “In The Rain” by The Dramatics, “Mr. Big Stuff” by Jean Knight, plus songs by Rufus Thomas, The Staple Singers, and Shirley Brown you have an album with no filler.

Stax Number Ones presents the best of not only Memphis soul but of American rhythm and blues. The songs are an essential slice of American music.

Stax: The Soul Of Hip-Hop by Various Artists

June 13, 2009

The Stax label was formed in 1957 and issued some of the finest rhythm and blues in music history. It was always the alternative to Motown’s smooth, soul sound (with apologies to Marvin Gaye). It was gritty, natural, energetic, and in your face. Artists such as Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, The Bar-Kays, and Booker T. and The M.G.’s would all release unforgettable material that would prove influential in the development of American music.

The Fantasy label would purchase Stax in 1978 and would in turn be acquired by The Concord Music Group. They would re-activate the label in 2007.

The theory behind Stax: The Soul Of Hip-Hop is that the fourteen tracks included in this release directly influenced a number of modern day hip-hop artists. The liner notes dissect each song and make a direct connection as to their use by an artist. For example Big Daddy Kane used an instrumental loop from “Melting Pot” by Booker T. & The M.G.’s on “Another Victory” and LL Cool J’s use of the Dramatics “Get Up and Get Down” on his “Isn’t He Something.” Anyway you get the idea.

The Stax label did produce a lot of music that can be considered influential to the hip-hop style although it was a lot broader than the thesis of this release. The main point, for me at least, is that I don’t care. I did not obtain this album because of its influences but rather for the music itself.

Stax: The Soul Of Hip-Hop contains a number of tracks that rarely see the light of day and when the fourteen songs are taken together they form an excellent look into the Memphis or Southern style of soul music.

The first track sets the tone for the album. “Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth” by 24-Carat Black is an example of the political and sociological message that many group were creating in 1973. 24-Carat Black is an obscure group that deserved more attention at the time and its nice to have one of there better songs available again.

Isaac Hayes is represented by two
tracks. “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic” from his classic Hot Buttered Soul album and the rarely heard “Hung Up On My Baby” from the soundtrack to the film Three Tough Guys show why he was such a cultural voice in the late sixties and early seventies.

Some other gems that are well worth hearing are “After The Laughter (Comes Tears)” by Wendy Rene, “As Long As I’ve Got You” by The Charmels, “Why Marry” by The Sweet Inspirations, and of course no album of this type would be complete without the funky styling of Rufus Thomas who is heard here with “Do The Funky Penguin (Part 1).”

I guess if you want to purchase or listen to this album for its historical significance that’s fine but for me it always comes back to the music itself. Stax: The Soul Of Hip-Hop may only provide a glimpse of what is in the label’s vast catalogue but what a wonderful taste it is.