Monday, 31 August 2015

"Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions" by ETTA JAMES (2001 Universal/MCA/Chess “Blues Classics Remastered & Revisited” CD Reissue – Erick Labson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Do Right Woman..."

It's arguable that all eleven of the 2001 American Reissues listed below in Universal's fabulous "Blues Classics: Remastered & Revisited" CD Series are must-buy winners – guaranteed to put a pep in your step, a glint in your eye and an animated wanton in the trouser area (if I may be so rude on a wet Monday morning). And after spending 57 minutes in the company of their lone Etta James entry "Tell Mama..." - you can’t help feeling that this CD compilation is just a little bit more special than all the others. Here is a proper little sweetheart of a release available to us good Limey folks for notta-lotta wonga. Here are the shimmy-shimmy details...

US released May 2001 – "Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Recordings" by ETTA JAMES on Universal/MCA/Chess 088 112 518-2 (Barcode 008811251826) is a 22-track CD compilation and plays out as follows (57:09 minutes):

1. Tell Mama
2. I'd Rather Go Blind
3. Watch Dog
4. The Love Of My Mind
5. I'm Gonna Take What He's Got
6. The Same Rope
7. Security
8. Steal Away
9. My Mother In Law
10. Don't Lose Your Good Thing
11. It Hurts Me So Much
12. Just A Little Bit
Tracks 1 to 12 are the LP "Tell Mama" – released January 1968 in the USA on Cadet LP 802 (Mono) and Cadet LPS 802 (Stereo). Although the "Tell Mama" album was released in supposed 'Stereo' – Universal's tape research shows that true stereo mixes for Tracks 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 were never made - fake Stereo was used on the issued LP - so they've been replaced here with the true Mono mixes. Bearing that in mind - Tracks 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 are in STEREO – Tracks 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 are in MONO.

BONUS TRACKS (all in Mono, only Mono Masters exist):
13. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (recorded 30 Nov 1967)
14. You Took It (recorded 2 Aug 1968)
15. I Worship The Ground You Walk On (1968 USA 7" single on Cadet 5606, B-side of "I Got You Babe")
16. I Got You Babe (1968 USA 7" single on Cadet 5606, A)
17. You Got It (recorded August 1968)
18. I've Gone Too Far (recorded August 1968 – Previously Unreleased)
19. Misty (recorded August 1968 – Previously Unreleased)
20. Almost Persuaded (1969 USA 7” single on Cadet 5630, A)
21. Fire (1968 USA 7" single on Cadet 5620, B-side of "You Got It")
22. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (Alternate) (recorded 30 Nov 1967 – Previously Unreleased)

This CD will allow fans to sequence the A&B-sides of four US 7" singles using the following tracks:
1. Tell Mama [1] b/w I'd Rather Go Blind [2] (Nov 1967, Cadet 5578)
2. Security [7] b/w I'm Gonna Take What He's Got [5] (March 1968, Cadet 5594)
3. I Got You Babe [16] b/w I Worship The Ground You Walk On [15] (June 1968, Cadet 5606)
4. Almost Persuaded [20] b/w Steal Away [8] (Jan 1969, Cadet 5630)

The four-way foldout inlay has new liner notes by LEE HILDEBRAND (it also reproduces the original Morry Roth LP liner notes) as well as track-by-track annotation. There are colour photos of Etta in the Studio with the seated horn section of James Mitchell, Charles Chalmers and Floyd Newman - another with the rest of the band – Calvin Scott, Billy Foster, Jimmy Ray Johnson and Albert Lowe, Jr. – and a final shot of an smiling Gene "Bowlegs" Miller with Producer and owner of Fames Studios – Rick Hall. It’s nicely done if not a tiny bit slight – but that cannot be said of the fabulous ERICK LABSON remasters. Labson has handled as many as 1000 remasters overt the decades including the vast majority of the huge Chess Records catalogue as well as prestigious Rock catalogues like Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night, Neil Diamond, Wishbone Ash and The Who (to name but a few). But his work here is gorgeous – especially on those stunning Stereo cuts.

The LP is very much a product of the 60ts R&B times – fast-slow, fast-slow and so on. A fast belter opens proceedings with the Stereo take of "Tell Mama" putting hairs on your chest – which is followed by the magnificent ache of "I'd Rather Go Blind" (Christine McVie would almost make the song her own with Chicken Shack on Blue Horizon who covered it that year). Etta doesn't appreciate her jealous lover in "Watch Dog" as she tells us "...I don't want no man of mine everywhere I go...he's right behind...he's like the FBI!” You on the other hand will love this groovy shimmy and shake dancer penned by Don Covay. Time for Ed Townshend's "The Love Of My Man" where Etta tells us he's the greatest chap in the whole wide world. Shortly after she’s telling us in uncomfortable sucker-mode that even though 'he beat on me and he cheat on me' her man's ok really because in private he can be so sweet (what a guy).

The chipper Lloyd Webster/Leonard Caston number "The Same Rope" advises that if Etta's man leaves he maybe using that rope to hang himself when he realises what he's done (stunning audio on this especially in the rhythm section). She does a great job with Otis Redding's "Security" and the sexy arrangement she gives Jimmy Hughes' "Steal Away" is refreshing while still retaining the brilliance of that wicked original. Etta has a family itch she needs to scratch in the cautionary "My Mother In Law" where she tells us that she's "...Sick and tired of your mother...always sticking her nose in my business...seems like I married her...instead of you..." (oh dear). And on it goes to her slinky cover of Rosco Gordon's "Just A Little Bit" - a wicked hip-wiggler bound to put your arteritis out to pasture...

The 10 bonus tracks offer three Previously Unreleased (18, 19 and 22) while her single-only cover of Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe" is Previously Unreleased on album. Unfortunately it's easy to hear why her cover of "Misty" was canned – its jazzy arrangement feels dated, out of place and just doesn’t suit her. Better is the boogie of "You Took It", the Don Covay dancer "You Got It" and the chugging Clarence Carter funk of Willie Dixon's "Fire".

A wicked CD Reissue currently retailing at just over three quid from certain sellers. "I'm on fire! I'm hot!" Etta assures us on the funky R&B winner "Fire"...and I think she’s right...

Titles in the "Blues Classics: Remastered & Revisited" CD Series are:
(1 and 2 are SUHA GUR remasters, 3 to 11 are ERICK LABSON - I've reviewed most)

1. Bad News Is Coming - LUTHER ALLISON
(1972 Gordy LP, 2001 CD Remaster + Four Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks) - Universal 440 013 407-2 (Barcode 044001340727)

2. Luther’s Blues - LUTHER ALLISON
(1974 USA 9-track LP with 3 Previously Unreleased bonuses, 70:28 minutes)
Universal 440 013 409-2 (Barcode 044001340925)

3. Two Steps From The Blues - BOBBY BLAND
(1961 USA 12-track LP on Duke with 2 bonuses, 35:12 minutes)
MCA 088 112 516-2 (Barcode 008811251628)

4. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues - JOHN LEE HOOKER
(October 1966 and September 1991 LPs on Chess, 2LPs on 1CD, 79:44 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 821-2 (Barcode 008811282127)

5. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues - HOWLIN' WOLF
(January 1966 on Chess and January 1967 on Chess, 2LPs on 1CD, 66:45 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 820-2 (Barcode 008811282028)

6. Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions - ETTA JAMES
(January 1968 US 12-Track LP on Cadet - 13-22 being bonuses, 57:11 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 518-2 (Barcode 008811251826)

7. Live At San Quentin - B.B. KING
(1990 13-Track Compilation on MCA, no extras, 64:09 minutes)
MCA America 088 112 517-2 (Barcode 008811251727)

8. At Newport 1960 - MUDDY WATERS
(1960 US 9-Track LP on Chess with 10-13 being 4 Mono Studio Tracks from June 1960 as bonus tracks, 44:41 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 515-2 (Barcode 008811251529)

9. Fathers & Sons - MUDDY WATERS (with Paul Butterfield, Otis Spann, Mike Bloomfield, Donald 'Duck' Dunn and Buddy Miles)
(Tracks 1-10 and 15-20 is the August 1969 2LP set on Chess in Full with Tracks 11, 12, 13 being previously unreleased - and 14 previously unreleased in the USA). (77:38 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 648-2 (Barcode 008811264826)

10. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues - MUDDY WATERS
MCA/Chess 088 112 822-2 (Barcode 008811282226)

11. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues - SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON
(January 1966 and January 1967 LPs on Chess, 2LPs on 1CD, 65:28 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 823-2 (Barcode 008811282325)

"Street Corner Symphonies Volume 11: 1959" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (2013 Bear Family CD – Marcus Heumann Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…My Love Must Be A Kind Of Blind Love..."

Hot on the heels of their definitive "Blowing The Fuse" and "Sweet Soul Music" CD Series (15 volumes to each genre of R'n'B and Soul) comes Bear Family’s Vocal Group attack - 15 discs spanning 1939 to 1963. Volumes 1 to 10 hit the shops in batches of 5 (May and October 2012) and the last five in May 2013. And while critics will argue that Vocal Group music has already been done to death by Rhino (3 x 4CD Box Sets across the decades) and a mountain of other cheapo labels taking advantage of the 50-year copyright law - this is the first time someone reputable (other than Rhino) have had a go - and typically these German-issued Bear Family CDs are gorgeous in all the right places - presentation and audio. You get 34 tracks and a format-incredible total playing time of 83:23 minutes. Time for 'A Teenager In Love' to 'Wiggle Wiggle' as 'The Angels Listened In'...

Released May 2013 in Germany - "Street Corner Symphonies Volume 11: 1959" on Bear Family BCD 17289 AR (Barcode 5397102172892) breaks down as follows (I've provided American 7” single catalogue numbers on all tracks – those with two or more catalogue numbers are reissues in the same year – 83:23 minutes):

1. I Only Have Eyes For You – THE FLAMINGOS (End 1946, A)
2. Love Potion No. 9 – THE CLOVERS (United Artists 180, A)
3. This I Swear – THE SKYLINERS (Calico 106, A)
4. The Angels Listened In – THE CRESTS (Coed 515, A)
5. Island Of Love – THE SHEPPARDS (Apex 7750, A)
6. You're So Fine – THE FALCONS (Flick 001/Unart 2013, A)
7. Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home) – THE IMPALAS (Cub 9022, A)
8. My Love Will Never Die – THE CHANNELS (Fury 1021, A)
9. Wiggle, Wiggle – THE ACCENTS (Brunswick 55100, A)
10. Dedicated To The One I Love – THE SHIRELLES (Arranged & Directed by Stan Green) (Scepter 1203, A)
11. Senorita I Love You – THE IMPRESSIONS (Abner 1025, A)
12. A Teenager In Love – DION & THE BELMONTS (Laurie 3027, A)
13. Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko Bop – LITTLE ANTHONY & THE IMPERIALS (End 1060, A)
14. Hushabye – THE MYSTICS (Laurie 3028, A)
15. Moonlight Serenade – THE RIVIERAS (Orchestra Conducted by Al Semola) (Coed 508, A)
16. Who’s That Knocking – THE GENIES (Shad 5002, A)
17. Just To Be With You – THE PASSIONS (Arranged And Conducted by Paul Swain) (Audicon 102, A)
18. Charlie Brown – THE COASTERS (Atco 6132, A)
19. Dearest Darling (You're The One) – HUEY SMITH (and The Clowns) (Ace 571, A)
20. Dry Your Eyes – THE DELLS (Vee-Jay 324, A)
21. (Baby) Hully Gully – THE OLYMPICS (Arvee 562, A)
22. Puppy Love – LITTLE JIMMY & THE TOPS (V-Tone 102/Len 1011, A)
23. Rockin' In The Jungle – THE ETERNALS (Hollywood 68, A)
24. You Were Mine – THE FIREFLIES (Ribbon 6901, A)
25. Good News – THE FIESTAS (Old Town 1074, A)
26. Mope-itty Mope – THE BOSS-TONES (Boss 501/V-Tone 208, A)
27. Sea Of Love – PHIL PHILLIPS with The Twilights (Khoury’s 711/Mercury 71465, A)
28. Let It Please Be You – THE DESIRES (Hull 730, A)
29. There Goes My Love – THE FANTASTICS (RCA Victor 47-7572, A)
30. My Beloved (Without Strings) – THE SATINTONES (Motown 1000, A)
31. Oh Rose Marie – THE FASCINATORS (Orchestra Under The Direction Of Jesse Stone) (Capitol 4247, A)
32. This Broken Heart – THE SONICS (Harvard 801/Checker 922, A)
33. There Goes My Baby – THE DRIFTERS (Atlantic 2025, A)
34. Shout (Parts 1 & 2) – THE ISLEY BROTHERS (RCA Victor 47-7588, A)

The 84-page non-detachable booklet is a feast of indepth liner notes on each release by Grammy-winning writer and lifelong fan BILL DAHL. Let's put it this way - there's a 'Photo Captions' index on Page 82 that tells who's who in the black and white publicity shots that accompany most (not all) of the photos. It actually lists the singer's names  - who else but Bear would do this? The text is peppered with pictures of those old American 45s on long-forgotten labels like Flick, Unart, Scepter, Boss, Ghoury’s, Harvard, Hull and Cub as well as bigger names like Atco, Mercury and even Motown. You get rare 7” picture sleeves for The Accents, The Crests and The Falcons. The CD repros the rare "I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos on End and the spine makes up a single photograph of the series name when you line up all 15 volumes alongside each other on a shelf. Long-standing and trusted names like Walter DeVenne, Nico Feuerbach, Victor Pearlin, Colin Escott and Billy Vera have been involved in the research - while Audio Engineer MARCUS HEUMANN did the superb mastering (Disc Transfers by Victor Pearlin and Lothar Blank). The sources (as you can imagine) differ wildly but to my ears the sound quality is improved on everything that I've heard before (including some of the Rhino box sets). The audio and presentation are top-class here (a norm for Bear Family)...

With a huge 34 tracks and a format-packed playing time of 83:23 minutes – you certainly can't accuse this CD of scrimping it. Sounding gorgeous and virtually defining Vocal Group bliss – 1959's Volume 11 opens with a genuine masterpiece that I would put close to the top of my Desert Island disc selection – the beautiful "I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos. What a song – never fails to send me. It may look like Turpentine and taste like India Ink - but "Love Portion No. 9" seems to be doing the babe-pulling business for The Clovers - that is until one of them kisses a cop at 34th and Vine. Strings arrive with "This I Swear" by the white-boys-n'-gal combo of The Skyliners where our hero promises to never make her cry (he even sounds sincere folks).

Things go Dion & The Belmonts pop with The Crests on "The Angels Listened In" where our hero is convinced of heavenly intervention every time he looks at his girl. "Island Of Love" is an excellent slow-dancer as is the decidedly low-fi but emotion-packed "You're So Fine". A great smoocher and a genuinely clever inclusion is "My Love Will Never Die" by The Channels with soaring vocals from Lead Tenor Earl Lewis – as lovely as The Flamingos opener. Coming on like a companion rhythm to "Itty Bitty Pretty One" things gets bop-a-long with the infectious "Wiggle, Wiggle" by The Accents where Lead Vocalist James Jackson advises his lady on what to do with her rather fine posterior (but in a nice way you understand). By the time we reach The Shirelles with "Dedicated To The One I Love" and "A Teenager In Love" by Dion & The Belmonts – you can already feel the racy free-love of the 60ts beckoning.

Although it was huge on the charts - the almost African rhythms of "Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko Bop" by Little Anthony & The Imperials sits a little uncomfortably here. The squeaky clean "Hushabye" by The Mystics (written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman) sounds incredible audiowise. “Moonlight Serenade” feels a little too syrupy for its own good – better is the bopping “Who’s That Knocking” by The Genies which sounds a little like "Rama Lama Ding Dong". The pretty "Just To Be With You" by The Passions impresses but it's kicked into touch by the witty crowd-pleasing R&B of "Charlie Brown" by The Coasters (what a winner). Before they embarked on a staggering 40-year career in R&B and sophisticated 60ts Soul – The Dells gave us the lovely "Dry Your Eyes". Novelty time with "Hully Gully", the organ-driven seaside feel to "Puppy Love" and silly jungle noises for "Rockin' In The Jungle". Far better is the Otis Blackwell written "Good Times" by The Fiestas – a really great shuffling beat that's clearly going after the dancefloor crowd. "Sea Of Love" by Phil Phillips even had an Al Pacino/Ellen Barkin film named after it. "There Goes My Baby" indicates at the Soul to come. And on it goes to musical history with "My Beloved" by The Satintones – a long forgotten single but one that enjoyed the (now) astonishing catalogue number of Motown 1000 – the very first Vocal Group on the label...

To sum up – as 1959 plays you can feel the heyday of Vocal Groups as we've known and loved them already on the wane (and there's four more volumes to go No. 15) – but that doesn't mean that the song quality has gone out the window. I know many of these crossover R&B hits from other compilations – but their clarity here is stunning. You could argue the merits of having the manic Jackie Wilson crowd-pleasing vocal pyrotechnics of The Isley Brothers ending the compilation with both parts of the fabulous "Shout" – but I for one am glad it's here...

Niggles - they're too expensive as singles discs and perhaps they should have been doubles because real collectors will have more than a few titles on offer here. But Bear Family will argue '...not in this sound quality or looking this good...' - and they'd have a point.

Presented to us with love and affection by an independent record company that cares about forgotten voices that shouldn’t be forgotten. What a sweetheart of a compilation and another gold standard from Bear...

"I'll Remember" by TASTE [featuring Rory Gallagher] (2015 Universal/Polydor 4CD Book Set – Paschal Byrne Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Blister On The Moon..."

When "On The Boards" by Rory Gallagher's TASTE was released on the first day of the new decade (1 January 1970) – yours truly was a goofy 11-year old Dublin kid recently progressed from short pants into long trousers with a rapidly growing obsession for Girls, Thunderbirds 2 and Rock Music (yum yum). As you can imagine - guitar-heroes who were 'Irish' could be typed on a very small piece of paper indeed. But man oh man when we stumped up our candidate for selection – Ireland produced a proper goodun.

So what of this much-anticipated reissue? As much as I worship the ground Rory Gallagher and his battered Stratocaster walked on – this 2015 Universal 4CD Reissue is both good and awful in very equal measures. The good news is that the PASCHAL BYRNE remasters of the two studio albums are off-the-wall brilliant. Byrne has a long and distinguished history as an Audio Engineer having handled the "Spirit Of Joy" Polydor 3CD Box Set and hundreds of other quality reissues for Universal and Esoteric Recordings over the last decade. But I'm sensing awards are in order because the boy has excelled himself here. The audio on the two albums is fabulous – the best I've ever heard - and I've known and loved these LPs for over 45 years. The Previously Unreleased outtakes from those studio efforts are also genuinely worth having too – stuff that will make blind men see, preachers lay their Bibles down and even persuade politicians to go straight (well lets not ask for too much shall we).

But (all puns aside) Discs 3 and 4 are a different matter. The professionally recorded Swedish gig is electrifying (it really is) but the 'Off Air' "BBC Live In Concert" stuff that finishes off Disc 3 is virtually unlistenable – poor bootleg standard at best. And the fact that an exclusive song like "Feel So Good" on the officially released "Live Taste" and "Live At The Isle Of Wight" LPs from 1971 and 1972 has been replaced with this lesser stuff will only rub salt into the wounds for fans. Disc 4 is not much better - the 'Belfast Sessions' are Demos notoriously inflicted with tape dropouts on almost all tracks that 'has not' been fixed - so they're curio value at best rather than a pleasurable listen. In fairness to the makers of the box – this stuff is included of course for completeness and some of the earlier tracks are actually worth listening to. But if they're audibly damaged – then why include them at all. The Major Minor single is crap and the Woburn stuff good rather than great (a very so-so recording). In truth - had this been a 3CD set containing the Swedish gig and the stragglers not duplicated from the official live albums slapped on at the end of Disc 3 – then it would have been perfect. As it is – I know I'll only be playing those first two discs and the live Swedish gig off the 3rd – and ditching the inferior rest. Here are the full details...

UK released Friday 28 August 2015 – "I'll Remember" by TASTE on Universal/Polydor 472 269-7 (Barcode 602547226976) is a 4CD Book Set Of Remasters and pans out as follows:

Disc 1 – "Taste" – 63:25 minutes:
1. Blister On The Moon
2. Leavin' Blues
3. Sugar Mama
4. Hail
5. Born On The Wrong Side Of Time
6. Dual Carriageway Pain [Side 2]
7. Same Old Story
8. Catfish
9. I'm Moving On
Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut studio LP "Taste" – released April 1969 in the UK on Polydor 583 042 and August 1969 in the USA on Atco SD 33-296

BONUS TRACKS (all Previously Unreleased):
10. Blister On The Moon (Alternate Version)
11. Leavin' Blues (Alternate Version)
12. Hail (Alternate Version)
13. Dual Carriageway Pain (Alternate Version)
14. Same Old Story (Alternate Version with No Vocals)
15. Catfish (Alternate Version)

Disc 2 – "On The Boards" – 71:10 minutes:
1. What's Going On
2. Railway And Gun
3. It's Happened Before, It'll Happen Again
4. If The Day Was Any Longer
5. Morning Sun
6. Eat My Words [Side 2]
7. On The Boards
8. If I Don't Sing I'll Cry
9. See Here
10. I'll Remember
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 2nd and last studio album "On The Boards" – released January 1970 in the UK on Polydor 583 083 and in the USA on Atco SD 33-322. It charted in the UK rising to No. 18.

BONUS TRACKS (All Previously Unreleased):
11. Railway And Gun (Take 2 – Off The Boards Mix)
12. See Here (Take 1 – Alternate Version)
13. It's Happened Before, It'll Happen Again (Take 2 – Beat Club TV Audio)
14. If The Day Was Any Longer (Beat Club TV Audio)
15. Morning Sun (Beat Club TV Audio)
16. It's Happened Before, It'll Happen Again (Beat Club TV Audio)

Disc 3 – "Live In Konserthuset" - 77:45 minutes (all Previously Unreleased):
1. What's Going On
2. Sugar Mama
3. Gamblin' Blues
4. Sinner Boy
5. At The Bottom
6. She's Nineteen Years Old
7. Morning Sun
8. Catfish
Tracks 1 to 8 recorded Live in Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden, 1970

"BBC Live In Concert"
9. I'll Remember
10. Railway And Gun
11. Sugar Mama
12. Eat My Words
13. Catfish
Tracks 9 to 13 are an "Off Air" Recording of TASTE Live at The Paris Theatre in London, 1970.

Disc 4 - "The Belfast (Early) Sessions" - 56:12 minutes (Previously Unreleased on CD):
1. Wee Wee Baby
2. How Many More Years
3. Take It Easy Baby
4. Pardon Me Mister
5. You've Got To Pay
6. Norman Invasion
7. Worried Man
8. Blister On The Moon - April 1968 UK debut 7" single on Major Minor Records MM 560, A
9. Born On The Wrong Side Of Time - B-side of 8, both are different mixes to the versions on the debut LP (which were re-recorded)

"Live At Woburn Abbey" (Woburn Abbey Festival, UK, 1968)
10. Summertime
11. Blister On The Moon
12. I Got My Brand On You
13. Medley: Rock Me Baby/Bye Bye Bird/Baby Please Don’t Go/You Shook Me Baby

TASTE (or The Taste as they were originally called) was Rory Gallagher on Lead Guitar and Vocals, Richard McCracken on Bass and John Wilson on Drums.

"I'll Remember" comes in one those 8" CD Book Packs with an attached 40-page booklet. Produced by Donal and Daniel Gallagher (his family) alongside Joe Black – the superbly detailed sleeve notes are by NIGEL WILLIAMSON and go into Rory’s early days in Belfast at The Maritime Club (Taste took over residency from Van Morrison's Them) on to their first reference on a London billboard (August 1967 as a support act to Robert Hirst at The Marquee) and even meeting John Peel in a transport cafĂ© (he remained a huge fan of Gallagher for years). Pages 28 to 29 are festooned with photographs I’ve never seen before of the young band in Cork, on their way to a date Scotland, tours with Traffic, sharing the Bill with Roger Chapman’s Family at the Camden Roundhouse and so on. There’s even a very old newspaper clipping of a happy Rory amidst a bunch of Cork hopefuls on a 'Spot The Talent' show smiling beneath a Mrs. Mary Carey-O'Mahony who had to be 75 if not a day! It's properly great stuff and affectionate too...the only error I can see is that a Danish titled picture sleeve of "Born On The Wrong Side Of Time" is credited as a UK release when it never had a picture sleeve in this country.

Eagle-eyed fans will know that the first Taste 45 was "Blister On The Moon" b/w "Born On The Wrong Side Of Time" on Major Minor Records MM 560 in April 1968 (long before they had an album) – and both cuts were different mixes to the re-recorded versions that turned up on the debut LP in 1969. Although it doesn’t state it directly on the packaging (it is mentioned in the excellent booklet) - they are here on Disc 4, Tracks 8 and 9 as part of ‘The Belfast Sessions’. That whole recording was issued in the UK as a Rory Gallagher LP called "In The Beginning" on Emerald Records GES 1100 in 1974 (it was later subject to successful prosecution). The only officially released British Polydor single came when the label put out the newly recorded LP cut of "Born On The Wrong Side Of Time" b/w "Same Old Story" as a first 7" single on Polydor 56313 in March 1969. But in that strange way that Polydor didn't support the first Stone The Crows LP with a 45 when they should have done – Polydor didn't bother to plug the 2nd Taste LP "On The Boards" with a single either although "What's Going On" was an obvious choice. In fact that track flipped with "Railway And Gun" and "If I Don't Sing, I'll Cry" b/w "I'll Remember" were both released as 7" singles in many European countries (a set of those picture sleeves adorns the last page of the attached booklet).

Produced by Tony Colton - the debut LP opens with a belter - "Blister On The Moon" - and immediately I'm hit with the quality remaster – the bass and drums so clear. We now get the first of the album's four cover versions – Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter's "Leavin' Blues" which sounds incredible – that strangely sparse slide sound he’s getting. The other three covers are a grungy (and hissy) "Sugar Mama" by Howlin' Wolf, his amazing cut of Robert Petway's 1941 Bluebird Records stalwart "Catfish" and a Countrified shuffle through Hank Snow's "I'm Moving On” (the rest are Gallagher compositions). His acoustic-only "Hail" sounds incredible while it's easy to hear why the re-recording of "Born On The Wrong Side Of Time" was an obvious single. “Dual Carriageway Pain” was badly recorded in my opinion and still sounds strangely tame - as if the song just needed to let rip somehow to infuse it with some genuine excitement. The same unfortunately applies to "Same Old Story" – a good tune hampered by a weedy recording. But then we get a true monster and surely why Hendrix was so impressed by Gallagher - his cover of "Catfish". Hendrix recorded "Catfish" himself in a similar 8-minute Bluesy vein (It was finally released as "Catfish Blues" on the superb "Blues" CD from 1994). It's as if Gallagher knew that something needed to be done – so he cranks the amps up to 90 and does an 8-minute Blues Rock thrashing of "Catfish". With heavy riffs like he's auditioning for Led Zeppelin - you can hear the amps rumbling in the background – his playing inspired because the structure of the song allows him to let go. It's a standout on an otherwise strangely tame debut LP...

The 2nd album "On The Boards" is an entirely different beast to the first – so much more sophisticated and filled with far better songs (all Rory originals). Again produced by Tony Colton but Engineered by Eddie Offord (late of Yes fame) – the audio is brilliant and the remaster absolutely brings that to life. "What's Going On" has always made me throw undignified shapes around my living room with a tennis racket (still does) – but little prepared me for the stunning audio on Bluesy "Railway And Gun" and the jazzy "It's Happened Before, It'll Happen Again" (Rory gives the Alto Saxophone a rare outing on this one). The Fleetwood Mac "Then Play On" boogie of "Morning Sun" is wicked too. The Johnny Winter style cool slide of "Eat My Words" sounds awesome, as does Rory's clever Harmonica inclusion on "If The Day Was Any Longer" (again with gorgeous Audio).

A six-minute "What's Going On" allows Rory to stretch out and get the crowd going but it’s the fabulous Blues Rock riffage of "Sugar Mama" that gets them clapping and screaming. He does a wicked electric slide version of Melvin Jackson's "Gamblin' Blues" where he sounds like Mike Bloomfield enjoying himself even though " woman eat me out of house and home..." We then get a track that would eventually turn up in studio form on his 1971 debut solo LP – "Sinner Boy". He slows it down with a 'new one' called "At The Bottom" which features his Harmonica playing (he would eventually record it for 1975's "Against The Grain"). Next up is a very cool version of Muddy Waters' "She's Nineteen Years Old" which has the crowd clapping to its salacious Blues beat – a great inclusion. It's followed by a forgotten nugget from "On The Boards" – a huge rocking version of "Morning Sun" fully brought to life in the live environment where Taste suddenly sound like a four-piece band and not just a trio. And it ends on the crowd-pleaser Blues-Rock of "Catfish" sounding every bit as powerful as the debut LP version – hair-raising note bending and all that. This is Heavy Hard Rock and I love it...

After the high of the Swedish recording – the BBC tracks come as a truly dreadful disappointment – they’re no better than a bad bootleg recording and even though "Eat My Words" is electrifying in all its slide-guitar glory – the audio makes it virtually unlistenable. Disc 4 offers some solace in 1967 demos of Big Joe Turner's "Wee Wee Baby", Howlin' Wolf's "How Many More Years" and a wicked Bluesy version of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Take It Easy Baby" which stretches to 7:13 minutes. The bad news is that those three-or-four-second tape drop-outs on "How Many More Years", "Pardon Me Mister", "You've Got To Pay", "Norman Invasion" (a three-minute instrumental) and "Worried Man" are still there making the listen a curio rather than a genuine pleasure. The Major Minor single versions of "Blister On The Moon" and "Born On The Wrong Side Of Time" in Mono sound strictly amateur-hour compared to their 1969 Polydor re-recordings and the Woburn Abbey gig is good rather than great. All in all – there's too much of Disc 3 and 4 that's dismissible. So there you have it – a very mixed bag - but I have to say that I’m lapping up the remasters of the studio albums and their alternate versions.

Once asked what’s it like to be seen as the greatest guitar player in the world – Jimi Hendrix reputedly replied, "I don't know. You should ask Rory Gallagher..." And at least parts of this "I'll Remember" 4CD release hammer home why the mighty Jimi was such an admirer...

Sunday, 30 August 2015

"STAX SOUL SINGLES - The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles Volume 3: 1972-1975" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (1994 and 2015 (Reissue) 10CD Box Set Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...I'll Take You There..."

"STAX Soul Singles Complete Volume 3" (3 of 3) spanning the final years of the famous Soul Label's output between 1972 and 1975 first appeared in 1994 in a garish orange-coloured 12" x 12" Box set to very mixed reviews. With 10-discs and a whopping 213-tracks – it was extensive for sure - but incredibly pricey. And worse - felt musically stodgy in terms of quality once you got past Discs 1 to 6.

The infinitely superior blue-coloured Volume 2 Box covering 1968 to 1971 had preceded it in 1993 - while the black-coloured Volume 1 Box (handled by Atlantic Records) had done the 9-disc 12" x 12" deed for the formative years of 1959 to 1968 in 1991. Subsequently 'Concord Music Group, Inc.' acquired the Stax catalogue in 2011 and began trickling out "Stax Remasters" single CDs of label favourites like The Staples Singers, Johnnie Taylor and Booker T. & The M.G.'s. Now in 2014 and 2015 - Concord are reissuing the two huge "Complete Stax Singles" boxes they do have control over in stripped down 'Mini Book Box' packaging at greatly reduced prices - Volume 2 in December 2014 and this - Volume 3 in February 2015 (I’ve reviewed both and the 9 "Stax Remasters" single discs).

Originally produced by BILL BELMONT and ROB BOWMAN - Volume 3 gives you 213 singles – 116 on Stax, 38 on Volt, 24 on Enterprise, 25 on Truth and 10 on We Produce. The lid of the 2015 Mini Box reissue slides upwards and off to reveal 10 numbered single card sleeves inside and a chunky 154-page booklet at the rear. Complete with full track annotation - the essay by ROB BOWMAN (author of "Soulsville U.S.A. – The Story Of Stax Records") is a blast to read - funny and honest. There are black and white publicity photos - colour reproductions of trade adverts for "Wattstax", The Staples Singers album "Be What You Are" and other LPs by Isaac Hayes and Albert King etc. An oddity though is that my card sleeve for Disc '6' is a duplicate with Disc 9 (the CD inside is correct) – I don't know if anyone else got this anomaly? The Audio Remaster done in 1994 by PHIL DE LANCE (with Archive Research and Tape Transfers by Lisa Gifford and Richard Duarte) has not been altered for the 2015 reissue probably because there's no need – this stuff sounds amazing anyway – full of life and presence. And second time around this 2015 10CD reissue is weighing in at a crowd-pleasing thirty-five quid - a bit of a deal in any man's language. Here are the indepth details...

UK released 2 March 2015 – "The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles Volume 3: 1972-1975" by VARIOUS ARTISTS is a 213-track 10CD Mini Box Set Reissue on Concord Music Group, Inc/Universal/Stax STX-35991-02 (Barcode 888072359918) and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1, 24 Tracks (79:03 minutes):
1. Yum Yum (I Want Some) – EDDIE FLOYD (January 1972, Stax STA-0109, A)
2. Carry On – JEAN KNIGHT (January 1972, Stax STA-0116, A)
3. Do Your Thing – ISAAC HAYES (January 1972, Enterprise ENA-9042, A)
4. I've Been Lonely For So Long (February 1972, Stax STA-0117, A)
5. Nothing Is Everlasting – ANNETTE THOMAS (February 1972, Stax STA-0118, A)
6. Hearsay – THE SOUL CHILDREN (February 1972, Stax STA-0119, A)
7. Angel Of Mercy – ALBERT KING (February 1972, Stax STA-0121, A)
8. In The Rain – THE DRAMATICS (February 1972, Volt VOA-4075, A)
9. She's My Old Lady Too – LEE SAIN (February 1972, We Produce XPA-1806, A)
10. Explain It To Her Mama – THE TEMPRESS (February 1972, We Produce XPA-1807, A)
11. Right On – SONS OF SLUM (February 1972, Stax STA-0120, A)
12. Doing My Own Thing (Part 1) – JOHNNY TAYLOR (The Soul Philosopher) (February 1972, Stax STA-0122, A)
13. My Honey And Me – THE EMOTIONS (February 1972, Volt VOA-4077, A)
14.  Let's Stay Together [Instrumental] – ISAAC HAYES (March 1972, Enterprise ENA-9045, A)
15. Bring It Home (And Give It To Me) – HOT SAUCE (March 1972, Volt VOA-4076, B-side to “Echoes To The Past”
16. Look Around You – BLACK SOCIETY (March 1972, Stax STA-0115, A)
17. Don’t Do It/I’m With You – THE NIGHTINGALES (March 1972, Stax STA-0107, A)
18. I'll Take You There – THE STAPLE SINGERS (March 1972, Stax STA-0125, A)
19. Which Way – THE LEADERS (March 1972, Volt VOA-4078, A)
20. Living A Life Without Love – VERA BROWN (March 1972, Stax STA-0123, A)
21. What's Good For You (Don't Have To Be Good To You) – HARVEY SCALES (March 1972, Stax STA-0126, A)
22. Let Me Repair Your Heart – THE MAD LADS (March 1972, Volt VOA-4080, A)
23. What's Usual Seems Natur'l – ERIC MERCURY (April 1972, Enterprise ENA-9047, A)
24. I Want To Make Up (Before We Break Up) – MAJOR LANCE (April 1972, Volt VOA-4079, A)

Disc 2, 20 Tracks (71:18 minutes):
1. Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One) – ISAAC HAYES & DAVID PORTER (April 1972, Enterprise ENA-9049, A)
2. Walking The Back Streets And Crying – LITTLE MILTON (April 1972, Stax STA-0124, B-side of “Before The Honeymoon”))
3. Save Us – WILLIAM BELL (April 1972, Stax STA-0128, A)
4. 6-3-8 – RUFUS THOMAS (April 1972, Stax STA-0129, A)
5. Starting All Over Again – MEL & TIM (May 1972, Stax STA-0127, A)
6. Keep On Loving Me – STEFAN (May 1972, Stax STA-0130, A)
7. I'm Afraid The Masquerade Is Over – DAVID PORTER (May 1972, Enterprise ENA-9050, A)
8. Going Down Slow – LITTLE SONNY (May 1972, Enterprise ENA-9053, A)
9. I Could Never Be happy – THE EMOTIONS (May 1972, Volt VOA-4083, A)
10. Don't Take My Kindness For Weakness – THE SOUL CHILDREN (June 1972, Stax STA-0132, A)
11. I'll Play The Blues For You, Part 1 – ALBERT KING (June 1972, Stax STA-0135, A)
12. I Dedicate My Life To You – ROGER HATCHER (June 1972, Volt VOA-4084, A)
13. Do The Sweetback – MARCH WIND (June 1972, Stax STA-0131, A)
14. Gettin' Funky 'Round Here – BLACK NASTY (June 1972, Enterprise ENA-9054, A)
15. When The Chips Are Down – DAVID PORTER (June 1972, Enterprise ENA-9055, A)
16. Sugar – CARLA THOMAS (July 1972, Stax STA-0133, A)
17. You’re Good Enough (To Be My Baby) – EDDIE FLOYD (July 1972, Stax STA-0134, A)
18. This World – THE STAPLE SINGERS (July 1972, Stax STA-0137, A)
19. Helping Man – JEAN KNIGHT (July 1972, Stax STA-0136, A)
20. Ain't I Good – JOHN KaSANDRA (July 1972, Truth TAA-2502, A)

Disc 3, 23 Tracks (76:41 minutes):
1. Dance, Dance, Dance (Part 1) – THE BAR-KAYS (July 1972, Volt VOA-4081, A)
2. Dedicated To The One I Love – THE TEMPREES (July 1972, We Produce XPA-1808, A)
3. Toast To The Fool – THE DRAMATICS (July 1972, Volt VOA-4082, A)
4. Stop Doggin' Me – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (August 1972, Stax STA-0142, A)
5. Trouble – FREDERICK KNIGHT (August 1972, Stax STA-0139, A)
6. I'm Gonna Cry A River – LITTLE MILTON (August 1972, Stax STA-0141, A)
7. Itch And Scratch (Part 1) – RUFUS THOMAS (August 1972, Stax STA-0140, A)
8. What Would I Do – ERNIE HINES (August 1972, We Produce XPA-1809, A)
9. I Know It's Not Right (To Be In Love With A Married Man) – VEDA BROWN (September 1972, Stax STA-0143, A)
10. Holy Cow – STEFAN (September 1972, Stax STA-0145, A)
11. What Goes Around (Must Come Around) – SONS OF SLUM (September 1972, Stax STA-0138, A)
12. Theme From The Men (Instrumental) – ISAAC HAYES (Enterprise ENA-9058, A)
13. Endlessly – MAVIS STAPLES (September 1972, Volt VOA-4086, A)
14. You Hurt Me For The Last Time – INEZ FOXX (September 1972, Volt VOA-4087, A)
15. My Sweet Lord – JOHN GARY WILLIAMS (September 1972, Stax STA-0146, A)
16. Breaking Up Somebody's Home – ALBERT KING (November 1972, Stax STA-0147, A)
17. How Can You Mistreat The One You Love – KATIE LOVE (November 1972, Stax STA-0151, A)
18. From Toys To Boys – THE EMOTIONS (Volt VOA-4088, A)
19. The Dryer (Vocal – Part 1) – ROY LEE JOHNSON & THE VILLAGERS (December 1972, Stax STA-0144, A)
20. I May Not Be All You Want (But I'm All You Got) – CARLA THOMAS (December 1972, Stax STA-0149, A)
21. Ain't No Sweat – MAJOR LANCE (December 1972, Volt VOA-4085, A)
22. Do Me – JEAN KNIGHT (December 1972, Stax STA-0150, A)
23. Rainy Day – LITTLE MILTON (December 1972, Stax STA-0148, A)

Disc 4, 21 Tracks (72:35 minutes):
1. It Ain't Always What You Do (It's Who You Let See Do It) – THE SOUL CHILDREN (January 1973, Stax STA-0152, A)
2. I May Not Be What You Want – MEL & TIM (January 1973, Stax STA-0154, A)
3. Funky Robot (Part 1) – RUFUS THOMAS (February 1973, Stax STA-0153, A)
4. Don't You Fool With My Soul (Part 1) – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (February 1973, Stax STA-0155, A)
5. Oh La De Da – THE STAPLE SINGERS (February 1973, Stax STA-0156, A)
6. What Do You See in Her? HOT SAUCE) February 1973, Volt VOA-4089, A)
7. A Thousand Miles Away – THE TEMPRESS (February 1973, We Produce XPA-1810, A)
8. Hey You! Get Off My Mountain – THE DRAMATICS (February 1973, Volt VOA-4090, B-side to “The Devil is Dope”)
9. Rolling Down A Mountainside – ISAAC HAYES (Enterprise ENA-9065, A)
10. You're Still My Brother – THE BAR-KAYS (March 1973, Volt VOA-4092, A)
11. Stop Half Loving These Women – JIMMY LEWIS (March 1973, Volt VOA-4091, A)
12. Lovin' On Borrowed Time – WILLIAM BELL (March 1973, Stax STA-0157, A)
13. Lay Your Loving On Me – EDDIE FLOYD (March 1973, Stax STA-0158, A)
14. The Time – INEZ FOXX (March 1973, Volt VOA-4093, A)
15. Heaven Knows – MEL & TIM (May 1973, Stax STA-0160, A)
16. I Believe In You (You Believe In Me) – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (May 1973, Stax STA-0161, A)
17. Short Stopping – VEDA BROWN (May 1973, Stax STA-0163, A)
18. Be What You Are – THE STAPLE SINGERS (May 1973, Stax STA-0164, A)
19. I’ve Got To Love Somebody’s Baby – STEFAN (May 1973, Stax STA-0165, A)
20. Playing On Me – ALBERT KING (May 1973, Stax STA-0166, A)
21. Long As You’re The One Somebody In The World – DAVID PORTER (May 1973, Enterprise ENA-9071, A)

Disc 5, 22 Tracks (72:31 minutes):
1. This Is My Song Of Love To You – FREDERICK KNIGHT (June 1973, Stax STA-0167, A)
2. Sugarcane – THE MGs (June 1973, Stax STA-0169, A)
3. Love Is A Hurtin' Thing – THE SOUL CHILDREN (June 1973, Stax STA-0170, A)
4. Baby, Lay Your Head Down (Gently On My Bed) – EDDIE FLOYD (July 1973, Stax STA-0171, A)
5. Check Me Out – EDDIE FLOYD (July 1973, Stax STA-171, B-side of “Check Me Out”)
6. Runnin' Back – THE EMOTIONS (July 1973, Volt VOA-VOA-4095, B-side of “I Wanna Come Back”)
7. Crossing Over The Bridge – INEX FOXX (July 1973, Volt VOA-4096, A)
8. Love's Maze – THE TEMPREES (July 1973, We Produce XPA-1811, A)
9. It Ain't Easy – THE BAR-KAYS (July 1973, Volt VOA-4097, A)
10. Love Among People – CARLA THOMAS (August 1973, Stax STA-0173, A)
11. What It Is – LITTLE MILTON (August 1973, Stax STA-0174, A)
12. I’ve Got To Go On Without You – WILLIAM BELL (August 1973, Stax STA-0175, A)
13. Love Is Taking Over – ERIC MERCURY (August 1973, Enterprise ENA-9080, A)
14. Ruby Dean – HOE HICKS (August 1973, Enterprise ENA-9081, A)
15. I'm So Glad I Fell In Love With You – THE MAD LADS (August 1973, Volt VOA-4098, A)
16. Fell For You – THE DRAMATICS (August 1973, Volt VOA-4099, A)
17. Cheaper To Keep Her – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (September 1973, Stax STA-0176, A)
18. I Know You Don't Want Me No More – RUFUS THOMAS (September 1973, Stax STA-0177, A)
19. If You're Ready (Come Go With Me) – THE STAPLE SINGERS (September 1973, Stax STA-0179, A)
20. Slipped And Tripped – THE SWEET SENSATIONS (October 1973, Stax STA-0178, A)
21. Peace Be Still – THE EMOTIONS (October 1973, Volt VOA-4100, A)
22. I'll Be The Other Woman – THE SOUL CHILDREN (November 1973, Stax STA-0182, A)

Disc 6, 20 Tracks (73:40 minutes):
1. The Martian Hop – THE NEWCOMERS (November 1973, Stax STA-0186, A)
2. I Had A Talk With My Man (November 1973, Volt VOA-4101, A)
3. At Last – THE TEMPREES (November 1973, Enterprise ENA-9085, A)
4. Joy (Part 1) – ISAAC HAYES (November 193, Enterprise ENA-9085, A)
5. Good Woman Turning Bad – HOT SAUCE (November 1973, Volt VOA-4103, A)
6. Mose (Part 3) – JOHN KASANDRA (November 1973, We Truth TAA-2504, A)
7. I’ll Be Your Santa Baby – RUFUS THOMAS (December 1973, Stax STA-0187, A)
8. I Wanna Do Things For You – EDDIE FLOYD (December 1973, Stax STA-0188, A)
9. That's What The Blues Is All About – ALBERT KING (December 1973, Stax STA-0189, A)
10. One Way Love Affair – CAROLYN HURLEY (December 1973, Stax STA-0191, A)
11. Tin Pan Alley – LITTLE MILTON (December 1973, Stax STA-0191, A)
12. The Funky Bird – RUFUS THOMAS (December 1973, Stax STA-0192, A)
13. We're Getting Careless With Our Love – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (December 1973, Stax STA-0193, A)
14. What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas – THE EMOTIONS (December 1973, Volt VOA-4104, A)
15. Season's Greetings – CIX BITS (December 1973, Enterprise ENA-9087, A)
16. Don't Lose Faith In Me Lord –ERIC MERCURY (December 1973, Enterprise ENA-9089, A)
17. Don't Start Loving Me (If You're Gonna Stop) – VEDA BROWN (January 1974, Stax STA-0194, B-side to “Fever”)
18. Touch A Hand, Make A Friend – THE STAPLE SINGERS (January 1974, Stax STA-0196, A)
19. And I Panicked – THE DRAMATICS (January 1974, Volt VOA-4105, A)
20. Change It All – JOY FLEMING (January 1974, Enterprise ENA-9088, A)

Disc 7, 21 Tracks (68:58 minutes):
1. Gettin' What You Want (Losin' What You Got) – WILLIAM BELL (February 1974, Stax STA-0198, A)
2. He's Mine – JACQUI VERDELL (February 1974, Truth TAA-2505, A)
3. My Woman Is Good To Me – LITTLE SONNY (February 1974, Enterprise ENA-9092, A)
4. I Got You And I'm Glad – DAVID PORTER (February 1974, Enterprise ENA-9090, A)
5. Put A Little Love Away – THE EMOTIONS (February 1974, Volt VOA-4106, A)
6. Suzy – FREDERICK KNIGHT (February 1974, Stax STA-0201, A)
7. The Same Folks – MEL & TIM (March 1974, Stax STA-0202, A)
8. You Make The Sunshine – THE TEMPREES (March 1974, We Produce XPA-1813, A)
9. The Whole Damn World Is Going Crazy – JOHN GARY WILLIAMS (March 1974, Stax STA-0205, A)
10. Circuit's Overloaded – INEZ FOXX (March 1974, Volt VOA-4107, A)
11. Wonderful – ISAAC HAYES (March 1974, Enterprise ENA-9095, A)
12. Behind Closed Doors – LITTLE MILTON (April 1974, Stax STA-0210, A)
13. Guess Who – EDDIE FLOYD (April 1974, Stax STA-0209, A)
14. Dirty Tricks – THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS (April 1974, Stax STA-0203, A)
15. Whicha Way Did It Go – ROEBUK “POPS” STAPLES (April 1974, Stax STA-0213, A)
16. Talking To The People – BLACK NASTY (April 1974, Enterprise ENA-9098, A)
17. I've Been Born Again – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (April 1974, Stax STA-0208, A)
18. Neckbone – THE MGs (May 1974, Stax STA-0200, A)
19. Wounded Woman – SANDRA WRIGHT (May 1974, Stax STA-0212, A)
20. Stop Doggin' Me – HOT SAUCE (may 1974, Volt VOA-4109, A)
21. Goodness Gracious – KIM WESTON

Disc 8, 21 Tracks (73:13 minutes):
1. City In The Sky – THE STAPLE SINGERS (June 1974, Stax STA-0215, A)
2. Title Theme – ISAAC HAYES (June 1974, Enterprise ENA-9104, A)
3. Soul Street – EDDIE FLOYD (June 1974, Stax STA-216, A)
4. Flat Tire – ALBERT KING (June 1974, Stax STA-0217, A)
5. Love Makes It Right – THE SOUL CHILDREN (June 1974, Stax STA-0218, A)
6. Mr. Cool That Ain't Cool – THE TEMPREES (July 1974, We Produce XPN-1814, A)
7. Ain't Nuttin' (But Gettin' Down (Part 1) – RUFUS THOMAS (July 1974, Stax STN-0219, A)
8. Highway To Heaven – ROB BANKS & THE DRAMATICS (July 1974, Volt VOA-4108, A)
9. Get It While It's Hot – WILLIAM BELL (July 1974, Stax STN-0221, A)
10. Passing Thru – FREDERICK KNIGHT (July 1974, Truth TRA-3202, A)
11. Keep An Eye On Your Close Friends – THE NEWCOMBERS (July 1974, Truth TRN-3204, A)
12. My Main Man/There Is A God – THE STAPLE SINGERS (August 1974, Stax STN Special, A.)
See also Disc 9, Track 7 for the B-side to “My Main Man" only which was issued September 1974 on Stax STN-0227)
13. That's The Way I Want To Live My Life – MEL & TIM (August 1974, Stax STN-0224, A)
14. Forever And A Day – MEL & TIM (August 1974, Stax STN-0224, B-side to “That’s The way I Want To Live My Life”)
15. Baby, I'm Through – THE EMOTIONS (August 1974, Volt VON-4110, A)
16. It's September – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (August 1974, Stax STN-0226, A)
17. Woman To Woman – SHIRLEY BROWN (August 1974, Truth TRA-3206, A)
18. Did You Hear Yourself (Part 1) – RANDY BROWN & COMPANY (August 1974, Truth TRA-3207, A)
19. You Need A Friend Like Mine – ANNETTE THOMAS (September 1974, Truth TRA-3208, A)
20. I Love, I Love – THE TEMPREES (September 1974, We Produce XPN-1815, A)
21. Let Me Back In – LITTLE MILTON (September 1974, Stax STN-0229, A)

Disc 9, 22 Tracks (73:05 minutes):
1. Crosscut Saw – ALBERT KING (October 1974, Stax STN-0228, A)
2. Coldblooded – THE BAR-KEYS (October 1974, Volt VOA-4111, A)
3. Bump Meat – SIR MACK RICE (October 1974, Truth TRA-3212, A)
4. (Too Little In Common To Be Lovers) Too Much Going To Say Goodbye – THE NEWCOMERS (October 1974, Truth TRA-3213, A)
5. Bump And Boogie (Part 1) – THE WRECKING CREW (October 1974, Truth TRA-3214, A)
6. What's Happening Baby? – THE SOUL CHILDREN (November 1974, Stax STN-0230, A)
7. Who Made The Man – THE STAPLE SINGERS (November 1974, Stax STN-0227, B-side to “My Main Man” (only))
8. I Keep Thinking To Myself – BROOK BENTON (November 1974, Stax STN-0231, A)
9. I Got A Reason To Smile (Cause I Got You) – EDDIE FLOYD (November 1974, Stax STN-0232, A)
10. Try To Leave Me If You Can (I Bet You Can’t Do It) – BESSIE BANKS (November 1974, Volt VON-4112, A)
11. Burning On Both Ends – WILLIE SINGLETON (November 1974, Truth TRA-3215, A)
12. There Are More Questions Than Answers – THE EMOTIONS (December 1974, Volt VON-4113, A)
13. Santa Clause Wants Some Lovin' – ALBERT KING (October 1974, Stax STN-0234, A)
14. I Can't Let You Go – HOT SAUCE (January 1975, Volt VON-4114, A)
15. I Betcha Didn't Know That – FREDERICK KNIGHT (January 1975, Truth TRA-3216, A)
16. Lovin' You, Lovin Me – SANDRA WRIGHT (February 1975, Truth TRA-3220, A)
17. Do The Double Bump – RUFUS THOMAS (February 1975, Stax STN-0236, A)
18. Come And Get Your Love – THE TEMPREES (March 1975, We Produce XPN-1816, A)
19. Dark Skin Woman (Part 1) – SIR MACK RICE (April 1975, Truth TRA-3221, A)
20. It Ain't No Fun – SHIRLEY BROWN (April 1975, Truth TRA-3223, A)
21. If You Talk In Your Sleep – LITTLE MILTON (April 1975, Stax STN-0238, A)
22. Talk To The Man – EDDIE FLOYD (April 1975, Stax STN-0239, A)

Disc 10, 19 Tracks (63:42 minutes):
1. You're Astounding – BARBARA & JOE (April 1975, Truth TAA-2507, A)
2. Dy-No-Mite (Did You Say My Love) – THE GREEN BROTHERS (April 1975, Truth TRA-3219, A)
3. Boom-A-Rang – THE DYNAMIC SOUL MACHINE (May 1975, Truth TAA-2508, A)
4. Come What May – JOHN GARY WILLIAMS (May 1975, Truth TRA-3227, A)
5. Try Me Tonight – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (June 1975, Stax STN-0241, A)
6. Groovin' On My Baby’s Love – FREDDIE WATERS (June 1975, Stax STN-0246, A)
7. I Can't Shake Your Love (Can't Shake You Loose) – THE FIESTAS (June 1975, Truth TAA-2509, A)
8. I Wanna Play With You – FREDERICK KNIGHT (June 1975, Truth TRA-3228, A)
9. I'm Doing Fine – ALBERT KING (June 1975, Stax STA-0245, A)
10. No Way (I Can Live Without You) – TERESA DAVIS [of The Emotions] (June 1975, Stax STN-0247, B-side of “If I Were You”)
11. Back Road Into Town – THE STAPLE SINGERS (July 1975, Stax STN-0248, A)
12. I'm So Glad I Met You – EDDIE FLOYD (August 1975, Stax STN-0251, A)
13. Packed Up And Took My Mind – LITTLE MILTON (August 1975, Stax STN-0252, A)
14. Just Keep On Loving Me – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (September 1975, Stax STN-0253, A)
15. How Can I Be A Witness – R. B. HUDMON (September 1975, Truth TRA-3230, B-side of “If You Don’t Cheat On Me (I Won’t Cheat On You)”)
16. Jump Back ’75 (Part 1) – RUFUS THOMAS (October 1975, Stax STN-0254, A)
17. I Got To Be Myself – THE STAPLE SINGERS (October 1975, Stax STN-0255, A)
18. It's Worth A Whippin' – SHIRLEY BROWN (November 1975, Truth TRA-3231, A)
19. Holy Ghost (Part 1) – THE BAR-KAYS (November 1975, Volt VOA-4115, A)

Although the brief is 'Soul' – after a quick reconnoitre of the track lists - Blues fans will be pleased to see good names like Little Milton, Albert King, Little Sonny and others also get a look in (mainly on the Enterprise label). All the big hitters for Stax and its subsiduaries are here – Isaac Hayes, Eddie Floyd, The Staple Singers, Shirley Brown, The Emotions, The Dramatics and so on – but so are loads of names that don’t exactly roll off the (chart) tongue - Veda Brown, John KaSandra, Eric Mercury, Roger Hatcher, John Gary Williams and Stefan. Or how about Cix Bits, Hot Sauce or The Wrecking Crew. But that's the fun of a massive time like this – dip in and enjoy...

While the big hits like "I'll Take You There" and "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)" by The Staple Singers, "Starting All Over Again" by Mel & Tim, "I've Been Lonely For So Long" by Frederick Knight and "Cheaper To Keep Her" by Johnnie Taylor are great pit stops for Stax Soul – it's those nuggets inbetween the cracks that make this overlooked set such a reward. I love the impossibly romantic "Let Me Repair Your Heart" by The Mad Lads, the heavy guitar Blues of "Walking The Back Streets And Crying" by Albert King, the butt-shaking-boogie of "Gettin' Funky 'Round Here" by the suitably named Black Nasty. Northern Soul dancers will shuffle their talcom-powered shimmies to "How Can You Mistreat The One You Love" by Katie Love (fabulous audio too) and Jean Knight's stunning "Do Me” is a full-on Funky workout that will surely turn up in a Hollywood movie soon (and again sounding just amazing).

Fantastic vocals on the Funky fidelity tale "It Ain't Always What You Do (It's Who You Let See You Do It)" by The Soul Children while The Temprees do a Smokey Robinson Soulful version of a Vocal Group smoocher "A Thousand Miles Away" originally done by The Heartbeats in 1956. People like Inez Foxx are so associated with the 60ts that it's a shock to find they did torch-vocal Soul in 1973 (the passionate "This Time") and DJs with dancefloors to fill will appreciate the superb funk of "It Ain't Easy" by The Bar-Kays. There's loads of moods too - it goes from the instrumental Sunday morning easy of "Sugarcane" by The MG’s to the Sunday afternoon congregational Gospel of "Peace Be Still" where the girls of The Emotions let rip with just that – spirit-moved emotion. Isaac Hayes proved he still had sexy in him with the salacious "Joy (Part 1)" while Eddie Floyd got down with an Al Green rhythm on "I Wanna Do Things For You" where our hero promises his lady that he's gonna do things with her that he's never done with anyone else (yikes).

The beautiful all-colours positivity of The Staple Singers peppers so many discs – but most have forgotten fantastic groovers like "Touch A Hand, Make A Friend" and the stunning funk of "City In The Sky". One of Stax’s great songwriters David Porter gives us the sly groove of "I Got You And I'm Glad" (sports stunning audio too) while The Sweet Inspirations remain unimpressed by men's "Dirty Tricks". Bluesman Little Milton gets in a Soulful mood with his rearranged "Behind Closed Doors" (Charlie Rich) while that treated Guitar of Pops Staples is unmistakeable on "Whicha Way Did It Go" talking about the "mighty hand" of something bigger than himself...

The more I play these CDs the more I'm finding gems - and that Audio is just great throughout (truly impressive_. I'm also digging the space-saving snugness of this neatly shaped orange block as opposed to the clumsy 12" x 12" monster I used to have.

Stax Records may have been fading out as a label in 1975 but what a legacy they left behind. And this wicked 2015 Mini Box Set only reacquaints us with that deluge of great Soul in proper style...

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