Sunday, 24 January 2016

"The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1959-1968 (Volume 1)" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (1991 and 2016 Atlantic/Atco/Rhino 9CD Box Set Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

1991 12" x 12" Original 'Jewel Case' Box Set

2003 'Jewel Case' Mini Box Set Reissue

2016 'Card Sleeve' Mini Box Set Reissue
For Sale at Amazon UK...

"...Soul Power..."

Initially released as Volume 1 of 3 huge Box Sets covering the entire Stax/Volt singles output between 1959 and 1975 – "The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1959-1968" originally came out as a clunky but beautiful 9CD Album-Sized 12" x 12" Box Set way back in the mists of April 1991. It was then reissued as a smaller square box with nine jewel cases in September 2003 (using the same Barcode 7567822182) - and subsequently as nine mid-priced individual volumes. But all have been deleted now for years – some even accumulating massive price tags online. Since that time 'Concord Music Group, Inc.' have acquired the Stax catalogue and that's where this January 2016 reissue comes in...

USA released 19 January 2016 (22 January 2016 in the UK) – "The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1959-1968" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Atlantic/Atco/Rhino 081227954666 (Barcode is the same number) is a 9CD 'Mini Box Set' Reissue containing 244-tracks (using 1991 Remasters), an 84-page booklet and plays out as follows:

Disc 1, 29-Tracks (72:48 minutes):
1. Fall In Love – THE VELTONES (September 1959, Satellite 100, A)
2. 'Cause I Love You – CARLA & RUFUS (August 1960, first Satellite 103, A - then Atco 6177, A)
3. Gee Whiz – CARLA THOMAS (November 1960, first Satellite 104, A - then Atlantic 2086, A)
4. You Make Me Feel So Good – THE CHIPS (January 1961, Satellite 105, A)
5. A Love Of My Own – CARLA THOMAS (March 1961, Atlantic 2102, A)
6. Last Night – THE MAR-KEYS (June 1961, first Satellite S107, A - then Stax 107, A)
7. I Didn't Believe – RUFUS and FRIEND (June 1961, Atco 6199, A)
8. I'm Going Home – PRINCE CONLEY (July 1961, Satellite 108, A)
9. (Mama, Mama) Wish Me Good Luck – CARLA THOMAS (August 1961, Atlantic 2113, A)
10. Morning After – THE MAR-KAYS (September 1961, Stax 112, A)
11. The Life I Live – BARBARA STEPHENS (October 1961, Stax 113, A)
12. About Noon – THE MAR-KEYS (October 1961, Stax 114, A)
13. Burnt Biscuits – THE TRIUMPHS (November 1961, Volt 100, A)
14. I Kinda Think He Does – CARLA THOMAS (November 1961, Atlantic 2132, A)
15. Foxy – THE MAR-KEYS (November 1961, Stax 115, A)
16. You Don't Miss Your Water – WILLIAM BELL (November 1961, Stax 116, A)
17. Formula Of Love – WILLIAM BELL (November 1961, Stax 116, B-side to "You Don't Miss Your Water")
18. Goofin' Off – MACY SKIPPER (November 1961, Stax 117, A – some copies list this as Stax 116 in error)
19. Wait A Minute – BARBARA STEPHENS (January 1962, Stax 118, A)
20. Sunday Jealous – NICK CHARLES (February 1962, Stax 119, A)
21. That's The Way It Is With Me – BARBARA STEPHENS (March 1962, Stax 120, A)
22. No Tears – THE TONETTES (March 1962, Volt 101, A)
23. Pop-Eye Stroll - THE MAR-KEYS (March 1962, Stax 121, A)
24. The Three Dogwoods – NICK CHARLES (April 1962, Stax 122, A)
25. Why Should I Suffer With The Blues – THE CANES (April 1962, Stax 123, A)
26. Whot's Happenin'? – THE MAR-KEYS (June 1962, Stax 124, A)
27. Just Across The Street – THE DEL-RIOS (June 1962, Stax 125, A)
28. There's A Love – THE DEL-RIOS (June 1962, Stax 125, B-side to "Just Across The Street")
29. Can't Ever Let You Go – RUFUS THOMAS (July 1962, Stax 126, A)

Disc 2, 27-Tracks (73:07 minutes):
1. Green Onions – BOOKER T & THE MGs (August 1962, Stax 127 and Volt 102, A – the only single to be released on both Stax and Volt)
2. Behave Yourself – BOOKER T & THE MGs (August 1962, Stax 127, B-side to "Green Onions")
3. Any Other Way – WILLIAM BELL (August 1962, Stax 128, A)
4. I'll Bring It Home To You – CARLA THOMAS (October 1962, Atlantic 2163, A)
5. Sack-O-Woe – THE MAR-KEYS (October 1962, Stax 129, A)
6. These Arms Of Mine – OTIS REDDING (October 1962, Volt 103, A)
7. Teardrop Sea – THE TONETTES (November 1962, Volt 104, A)
8. The Dog – RUFUS THOMAS (January 1963, Stax 130, A)
9. Jelly Bread – BOOKER T & THE MGs (January 1963, Stax 131, A)
10. I Told You So – WILLIAM BELL (January 1963, Stax 132, A)
11. Bo-Time – THE MAR-KEYS (January 1963, Stax 133, A)
12. Home Grown – BOOKER T & THE MGs (February 1963, Stax 134, A)
13. My Imaginary Guy – DEANIE PARKER & THE VALADORS (February 1963, Volt 105, A)
14. Just As I Thought – WILLIAM BELL (February 1963, Volt 135, A)
15. What A Fool I've Been – CARLA THOMAS (April 1963, Atlantic 2189, A)
16. The Hawg, Part 1 – EDDIE KIRK (May 1963, Volt 106, A)
17. Don’t Be Afraid Of Love – OSCAR MACK (May 1963, Volt 107, A)
18. That’s My Guy – CHERYL & PAM JOHNSON (June 1963, Stax 136, A)
19. Chinese Crackers – BOOKER T & THE MGs (June 1963, Stax 137, A)
20. Somebody Mentioned Your Name – WILLIAM BELL (June 1963, Stax 138, A)
21. What Can I Do – BOBBY MARCHAN (June 1963, Volt 108, A)
22. That's What My Heart Needs – OTIS REDDING (June 1963, Volt 109, A)
23. What Can It Be – THE ASTORS (July 1963, Stax 139, A)
24. Bango – BILLY & THE KING BEES (September 1963, Volt 110, A)
25. Them Bones – EDDIE KIRK (September 1963, Volt 111, A)
26. Walking The Dog – RUFUS THOMAS (September 1963, Stax 140, A)
27. I'll Show You – WILLIAM BELL (September 1963, Stax 141, A)

Disc 3, 28-Tracks (73:41 minutes):
1. Pain In My Heart – OTIS REDDING (September 1963, Volt 112, A)
2. Gee Whizz, It's Christmas – CARLA THOMAS (November 1963, Atlantic 2212, A)
3. Mo' Onions – BOOKER T & THE MGs (December 1963, Stax 142, A)
4. Frog Stomp – FLOYD NEWMAN (December 1963, Stax 143, A)
5. Can Your Monkey Do The Dog – RUFUS THOMAS (January 1964, Stax 144, A)
6. You Won't Do Right – BOBBY MARCHAN (January 1964, Volt 113, A)
7. Wondering (When My Love Is Coming Home) – THE DRAPELS (January 1964, Volt 114, A – some copies mistakenly credit this as Volt 113)
8. Each Step I Take – DEANIE PARKER (January 1964, Volt 115, A)
9. The Honeydripper – THE VAN-DELLS (January 1964, Stax 145, A)
10. Who Will It Be Tomorrow – WILLIAM BELL (February 1964, Stax 146, A)
11. Come To Me – OTIS REDDING (February 1964, Volt 116, A)
12. Don't Leave Me This Way – OTIS REDDING (February 1964, Volt 116, B-side of "Come To Me")
13. I Don't Want You Anymore – EDDIE JEFFERSON (February 1964, Stax 147, A)
14. Restless – THE COBRAS (March 1964, Stax 148, A)
15. Somebody Stole My Dog – RUFUS THOMAS (March 1964, Stax 149, A)
16. Big Party – BARBARA & THE BROWNS (March 1964, Stax 150, A)
17. That's Really Some Good – RUFUS and CARLA (April 1964, Stax 151, A)
18. Night Time Is The Right Time – RUFUS and CARLA (April 1964, Stax 151, B-side of "That's Really Some Good")
19. Security – OTIS REDDING (April 1964, Volt 117, A)
20. Dream Girl – OSCAR MACK (May 1964, Stax 152, A)
21. Closer To My Baby – DOROTHY WILLIAMS (June 1964, Volt 118, A)
22. I've Got No Time To Lose – CARLA THOMAS (July 1964, Atlantic 2238, A)
23. Young Man – THE DRAPELS (July 1964, Volt 119, A)
24. Soul Dressing – BOOKER T & THE MGs (July 1964, Stax 153, A)
25. After Laughter (Comes Tears) – WENDY RENE (August 1964, Stax 154, A)
26. Can't Explain How It Happened – IVORY JOE HUNTER (August 1964, Stax 155, A)
27. Bush Bash – THE MAR-KEYS (August 1964, Stax 156, A)
28. Please Return To Me – THE FLEETS (August 1964, Volt 120, A)

Disc 4, 27-Tracks (70:51 minutes):
1. Jump Back – RUFUS THOMAS (September 1964, Stax 157, A)
2. Chained And Bound – OTIS REDDING (September 1964, Volt 121, A)
3. In My Heart – BARBARA & THE BROWNS (September 1964, Stax 158, A)
4. Spunky – JOHNNY JENKINS (October 1964, Volt 122, A)
5. Bar B-Q – WENDY RENE (November 1964, Stax 159, A)
6.  The Sidewalk Surf – THE MAD LADS (November 1964, Stax 160, A)
7. Can't Be Still – BOOKER T & THE MGs (November 1964, Stax 161, A)
8. A Woman's Love – CARLA THOMAS (November 1964, Atlantic 2258, A)
9. Yank Me – THE BARACUDAS (December 1964, Volt 123, A)
10. That's How Strong My Love Is – OTIS REDDING (December 1964, Volt 124, A)
11. Mr. Pitiful – OTIS REDDING (December 1964, Volt 124, B-side of "That's How Strong My Love Is")
12. Don't Let Her Be Your Baby – THE DEL-RAYS (January 1965, Stax 162, A)
13. Can't See You When I Want To – DAVID PORTER (January 1965, Stax 163, A)
14. My Lover – BARBARA & THE BROWNS (January 1965, Stax 164, A)
15. Got You On My Mind – THE ADMIRALS (February 1965, Volt 125, A)
16. How Do You Quit (Someone You Love) – CARLA THOMAS (February 1965, Atlantic 2272, A)
17. Biggest Fool In Town – GORGEOUS GEORGE (February 1965, Stax 165, A)
18. Banana Juice – THE MAR-KEYS (February 1965, Stax 166, A)
19. Little Sally Walker – RUFUS THOMAS (February 1965, Stax 167, A)
20. A Place Nobody Can Find – SAM & DAVE (March 1965, Stax 168, A)
21. Goodnight Baby – SAM & DAVE (March 1965, Stax 168, B-side to "A Place Nobody Can Find")
22. Boot-Leg – BOOKER T & THE MGs (April 1965, Stax 169, A)
23. Outrage – BOOKER T & THE MGs (April 1965, Stax 169, B-side of "Boot-Leg")
24. I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) – OTIS REDDING (April 1965, Volt 126, A)
25. I'm Depending On You – OTIS REDDING (April 1965, Volt 126, B-side of "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)")
26. Candy – THE ASTORS (May 1965, Stax 170, A)
27. Give What You Got – WENDY RENE (May 1965, Stax 171, A)

Disc 5, 27-Tracks (72:30 minutes):
1. Stop! Look What You’re Doing – CARLA THOMAS (May 1965, Stax 172, A)
2. Willy Nilly – RUFUS THOMAS (June 1965, Stax 173, A)
3. Don't Have To Shop Around – THE MAD LADS (July 1965, Volt 127, A)
4. Crying All By Myself – WILLIAM BELL (July 1965, Stax 174, A)
5. I Take What I Want – SAM & DAVE (August 1965, Stax 175, A)
6. When You Move You Lose – RUFUS and CARLA (August 1965, Stax 176, A)
7. Respect – OTIS REDDING (August 1965, Volt 128, A)
8. Make It Me – THE PREMIERS (September 1965, Stax 177, A)
9. The World Is Round – RUFUS THOMAS (September 1965, Stax 178, A)
10. In The Twilight Zone – THE ASTORS (September 1965, Stax 179, A)
11. Blue Groove – SIR ISAAC & THE DO-DADS (November 1965, Volt 129, A)
12. You Don’t Know Like I Know – SAM & DAVE (November 1965, Stax 180, A)
13. Grab This Thing (Part 1) – THE MAR-KEYS (November 1965, Stax 181, A)
14. Be My Lady – BOOKER T & THE MGs (November 1965, Stax 182, A)
15. Comfort Me – CARLA THOMAS (December 1965, Stax 183, A)
16. I Can't Turn You Loose – OTIS REDDING (December 1965, Volt 130, A)
17. Just One More Day – OTIS REDDING (December 1965, Volt 130, B-side to "I Can't Turn You Loose")
18. I Want Someone – THE MAD LADS (January 1966, Volt 131, A)
19. Birds & Bees – RUFUS and CARLA (January 1966, Stax 184, A)
20. Philly Dog – THE MAR-KEYS (January 1966, Stax 185, A)
21. I Had A Dream – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (February 1966, Stax 186, A)
22. Satisfaction – OTIS REDDING (February 1966, Volt 132, A)
23. Things Get Better – EDDIE FLOYD (March 1966, Stax 187, A)
24. I'll Run Your Hurt Away – RUBY JOHNSON (March 1966, Volt 133, A)
25. Hot Dog – THE FOUR SHELLS (March 1966, Volt 134, A)
26. Let Me Be Good To You – CARLA THOMAS (March 1966, Stax 188, A)
27. Hold On I'm Comin' – SAM & DAVE (March 1966, Stax 189, A)

Disc 6, 25-Tracks (71:23 minutes):
1. Laundromat Blues – ALBERT KING (April 1966, Stax 190, A)
2. Sugar Sugar – THE MAD LADS (April 1966, Volt 135, A)
3. Share What You Got (But Keep What You Need) – WILLIAM BELL (May 1966, Stax 191, A)
4. Marching Off To War – WILLIAM BELL (May 1966, Stax 191, B-side to "Share What You Got (But Keep What You Need)")
5. My Lover's Prayer – OTIS REDDING (May 1966, Volt 136, A)
6.Your Good Thing (It's About To End) – MABLE JOHN (May 1966, Stax 192, A)
7. I Got To Love Somebody's Baby – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (June 1966, Stax 193, A)
8. I Want A Girl – THE MAD LADS (June 1966, Volt 137, A)
9. Knock On Wood – EDDIE FLOYD (July 1966, Stax 194, A)
10. B-A-B-Y – CARLA THOMAS (July 1966, Stax 195, A)
11. My Sweet Potato – BOOKER T & THE MGs (July 1966, Stax 196, A)
12. Booker-Loo – BOOKER T & THE MGs (July 1966, Stax 196, B-side of "My Sweet Potato")
13. Oh, Pretty Woman – ALBERT KING (August 1966, Stax 197, A)
14. Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody – SAM & DAVE (August 1966, Stax 198, A)
15. Never Like This Before – WILLIAM BELL (September 1966, Stax 199, A)
16. Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) – OTIS REDDING (September 1966, Volt 138, A)
17. Patch My Heart – THE MAD LADS (September 1966, Volt 139, A)
18. Sister’s Got A Boyfriend – RUFUS THOMAS (September 1966, Stax 200, A)
19. Come To Me My Darling – RUBY JOHNSON (October 1966, Volt 140, A)
20. When My Love Comes Down – RUBY JOHNSON (October 1966, Volt 140, B-side to "Come To Me My Darling")
21. Try A Little Tenderness – OTIS REDDING (November 1966, Volt 141, A)
22. Crosscut Saw – ALBERT KING (November 1966, Stax 201, A)
23. Little Bluebird – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (November 1966, Stax 202, A)
24. Toe Hold – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (November 1966, Stax 202, B-side to "Little Bluebird")
25. Jingle Bells – BOOKER T & THE MGs (November 1966, Stax 203, A)

Disc 7, 26-Tracks (69:54 minutes):
1. You Got Me Hummin' – SAM & DAVE (November 1966, Stax 204, A)
2. You're Taking up Another Man's Place – MABLE JOHN (November 1966, Stax 205, A)
3. All I Want For Christmas Is You – CARLA THOMAS (November 1966, Stax 206, A)
4. Please Uncle Sam (Send Back My Man) – THE CHARMELS (November 1966, Volt 142, A)
5. Something Good (Is Gong To Happen To You) – CARLA THOMAS (January 1967, Stax 207, A)
6. Raise Your Hand – EDDIE FLOYD (January 1967, Stax 208, A)
7. Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One) – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (January 1967, Stax 209, A)
8. I Don't Want To Lose Your Love – THE MAD LADS (January 1967, Volt 143, A)
9. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby – SAM & DAVE (January 1967, Stax 210, A)
10. Let Me Down Slow – BOBBY WILSON (January 1967, Volt 144, A)
11. Hip Hug-Her – BOOKER T & THE MGs (February 1967, Stax 211, A)
12. Everybody Loves A Winner – WILLIAM BELL (March 1967, Stax 212, A)
13. Mini-Skirt Minnie – SIR MACK RICE (March 1967, Stax 213, A)
14. When Tomorrow Comes – CARLA THOMAS (March 1967, Stax 214, A)
15. The Spoiler – EDDIE PURRELL (April 1967, Volt 145, A)
16. I Love You More Than Words Can Say – OTIS REDDING (March 1967, Volt 146, A)
17. If I Ever Needed Love (I Sure Do Need It Now) – RUBY JOHNSON (April 1967, Volt 147, A)
18. Same Time, Same Place – MABLE JOHN (April 1967, Stax 215, A)
19. Tramp – OTIS and CARLA (April 1967, Stax 216, A)
20. Soul Finger – THE BAR-KEYS (April 1967, Volt 148, A)
21. Knucklehead – THE BAR-KEYS (April 1967, Volt 148, B-side to "Soul Finger")
22. Shake – OTIS REDDING (April 1967, Volt 149, A)
23. Born Under A Bad Sign – ALBERT KING (May 1967, Stax 217, A)
24. Soothe Me – SAM & DAVE (May 1967, Stax 218, A)
25. I Can't Stand Up – SAM & DAVE (May 1967, Stax 218, B-side to "Soothe Me")
26. Don’t Rock The Boat – EDDIE FLOYD (May 1967, Stax 219, A)

Disc 8, 28-Tracks (76:03 minutes):
1. My Inspiration – THE MAD LADS (June 1967, Volt 150, A)
2. Love Sickness – SIR MACK RICE (June 1967, Stax 220, A)
3. Sophisticated Sissy – RUFUS THOMAS (June 1967, Stax 221, A)
4. I'll Always Have Faith In You – CARLA THOMAS (May 1967, Stax 222, A)
5. How Can You Mistreat The One You Love – JEANNE & THE DARLINGS (June 1967, Volt 151, A)
6. Love Is A Doggone Good Thing – EDDIE FLOYD (June 1967, Stax 223, A)
7. Groovin' – BOOKER T & THE MGs (June 1967, Stax 224, A)
8. Slim Jenkin's Place - BOOKER T & THE MGs (June 1967, Stax 224, B-side to "Groovin'")
9. Glory Of Love – OTIS REDDING (June 1967, Volt 152, A)
10. I'm A Big Girl Now – MABLE JOHN (July 1968, Stax 225, A)
11. Wait You Dog - MABLE JOHN (July 1968, Stax 225, B-side to "I'm A Big Girl Now")
12. You Can't Get Away From It – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (July 1967, Stax 226, A)
13. Eloise (Hang On In There) – WILLIAM BELL (July 1967, Stax 227, A)
14. Knock On Wood – OTIS and CARLA (July 1968, Stax 228, A)
15. I'm Glad To Do It – C.L. BLAST (July 1967, Stax 229, A)
16. Double Up - C.L. BLAST (July 1967, Stax 229, B-side to "I'm Glad To Do It")
17. You Can't Run Away From Your Heart – JUDY CLAY (August 1967, Stax 230, A)
18. I’ll Gladly Take You Back – THE CHARMELS (August 1967, Volt 153, A)
19. Soul Man – SAM & DAVE (August 1967, Stax 231, A)
20. Daddy Didn't Tell Me – THE ASTORS (September 1967, Stax 232, A)
21. Give Everybody Some – THE BAR-KEYS (September 1967, Volt 154, A)
22. On A Saturday Night – EDDIE FLOYD (September 1967, Stax 233, A)
23. Don't Hit Me No More – MABLE JOHN (September 1967, Stax 234, A)
24. Somebody's Sleeping In My Bed – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (November 1967, Stax 235, A)
25. Winter Snow – BOOKER T & THE MGs (December 1967, Stax 236, A)
26. Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday – WILLIAM BELL (November 1967, Stax 237, A)
27. What'll I Do For Satisfaction – JOHNNY DAYE (November 1967, Stax 238, A)
28. Pick Up The Pieces – CARLA THOMAS (December 1967, Stax 239, A)

Disc 9, 27-Tracks (71:55 minutes):
1. Down Ta My House – RUFUS THOMAS (December 1967, Stax 240, A)
2. As Long As I've Got You – THE CHARMELS (December 1967, Volt 155, A)
3. Soul Girl – JEANNE & THE DARLINGS (December 1967, Volt 156, A)
4. Cold Feet – ALBERT KING (December 1967, Stax 241, A)
5. I Thank You – SAM & DAVE (January 1968, Stax 242, A)
6. Wrap It Up – SAM & DAVE (January 1968, Stax 242, B-side to "I Thank You")
7. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay – OTIS REDDING (January 1968, Volt 157, A)
8. Don't Pass Your Judgement – MEMPHIS NOMADS (January 1968, Stax 243, A)
9. Lovey Dovey – OTIS and CARLA (January 1968, Stax 244, A)
10. I Got A Sure Thing – OLLIE & THE NIGHTINGALES (February 1968, Stax 245, A)
11. Big Bird – EDDIE FLOYD (February 1968, Stax 246, A)
12. A Hard Day's Night – THE BAR-KAYS (February 1968, Volt 158, A)
13. Next Time – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (February 1968, Stax 247, A)
14. A Tribute To A King – WILLIAM BELL (March 1968, Stax 248, A)
15. Every Man Oughta Have A Woman – WILLIAM BELL (March 1968, Stax 248, B-side to "A Tribute To A King")
16. Able Mable – MABLE JOHN (March 1968, Stax 249, A)
17. The Memphis Train – RUFUS THOMAS (March 1968, Stax 250, A)
18. I Think I Made A Boo Boo – RUFUS THOMAS (March 1968, Stax 250, B-side to "The Memphis Train")
19. What Will Later On Be Like – JEANNE & THE DARLINGS (March 1968, Volt 159, A)
20. Hang Me Now - JEANNE & THE DARLINGS (March 1968, Volt 159, B-side to "What Will Later Be Like")
21. Soul Power – DEREK MARTIN (March 1968, Volt 160, A)
22. Bring Your Love Back To Me – LINDA LYNDELL (March 1968, Volt 161, A)
23. A Dime A Dozen – CARLA THOMAS March 1968, Stax 251, A)
24. Whatever Hurts You – THE MAD LADS (April 1968, Volt 162, A)
25. The Happy Song (Dum-Dum) – OTIS REDDING (April 1968, Volt 163, A)
26. (I Love) Lucy – ALBERT KING (April 1968, Stax 252, A)
27. I Ain't Particular – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (April 1968, Stax 253, A)

Atco and Atlantic 12, Satellite 7, Stax 158 and Volt 71
NOTE: Although there are 244 songs on this box set there were 248 singles released because 4 appeared on two labels - "Green Onions" on both Stax and Volt Records and the first three Satellite 7" single releases (Disc 1) also came out on Atco, Atlantic and Stax 45s.

Crazy as it sounds – this 2016 'Brick Block' reissue is so much prettier and easier to handle/shelf than its two bulky predecessors. Admittedly the 'reduced' print in the 84-page mini booklet can be hard to read at times and clearly looks like an acceptable copy (with the Discography between Pages 49 and 80 looking particularly anaemic). But its all here and that's cool by me. In fact compiler ROB BOWMAN's essay on the formative years of Stax (Pages 1 to 47) still remains a crucial read for fans of Soul Music. The cool-looking Black & Silver artwork on the cover of the box is on each CD and that lovely pale blue and red 'Stax/Volt' logo is carried over onto the box beneath that holds the CD and booklet (a nice touch)...

The AUDIO REMASTERS done in 1991 at DigiPrep by Rhino's most trusted Engineers BILL INGLOT and DAN HERSCH still stand up and don’t appear to have been touched or enhanced. I'd have to admit that In 2016 I've heard 'better' on many other compilations (Ace, Bear family) - so it's a shame that a newer polish wasn't given - but I'd still say that what you do get is great...

Disc 1 opens with the Vocal Group and Guitars of The Veltones followed by Staxs earliest superstars – Rufus and Carla Thomas – both sounding clean as a whistle. Hits begin with Carla's "Gee Whiz" and the stunning instrumental "Last Night" by The Mar-Keys – easily one of the coolest tunes of the early 60ts. But rarity and deep Soul fans will dig the three entries from Barbara Stephens who wrote all her own songs (even if she did sing a tad off key). Speaking of obscure – The Tonettes, Macy Skipper, The Triumphs and The Canes are not exactly names that roll off even the most experienced musical tongue – but each is superb in its own way (why wasn't the utterly cool instrumental "Burnt Biscuits" by The Triumphs (penned by Mort Shuman) a huge hit?). Speaking of things inexplicable - the Memphis blues singer Prince Conley (not to be confused with Arthur) puts in a blinding original on "I'm Going Home" - which is also the first session in the summer of 1961 that Steve Cropper remembers playing on as Stax's go-to session guitarist. Even the Vocal Group double entry from The Del-Rios (one smoocher, one bopper) is wickedly good. The Nick Charles entry "The Three Dogwoods" is holy-roller schlock of the worst kind and best forgotten...better is the brilliantly clever "Goofin' Off" by Macy Skipper where two hip dudes speed-rattle off venues, adverts and street jive. You may not be able to make much of the hipster rhymes out as they fly past - but its both very funny and very cool...

Disc 2 sees some Stax monsters – Booker T’s instrumental masterpiece and the coolest song in the known Universe "Green Onions" (the only tune in their catalogue that was released on both Stax and Volt and the label's first R&B No. 1), Otis Redding's tear-your-heart-out torch ballad "These Arms Of Mine" and the witty canine yelp of Rufus Thomas' dancefloor shuffler "Walking The Dog". Carla Thomas also hit decent chart placing with "I'll Bring It Home To You" (R&B 9, Pop 41) and "What A Fool I've Been" (R&B 28, Pop 91). Rarities include the Pop/Soul of Deanie Parker & The Valadors, the identikit Otis Redding vibe of Oscar Mack's "Don't Be Afraid Of Love" and the vocal group smooch of The Astors on the lovely "What Can It Be" (their first Stax 45 and a listed rarity at $100+). Personal poison goes to the jerky "Them Bones" by Eddie Kirk (wicked harmonica solo half way through) and the sweet girly Northern Soul vibe to "Teardrop Sea" by The Tonettes.

Disc 3 sees the first appearance of the ultra rare and obscure Wendy Rene sides that only appeared on the digital format in 2012 on Light In The Attic's superb CD compilation "After Laughter Comes Tears: Complete Stax Singles 1964-65..." Other hidden gems on Volume 3 also include cool instrumentals like the footpoundin' keyboard chug of "Frog Stomp” by Floyd Newman, The Van-Dells doing a saxophone version of the Joe Liggins R&B classic "The Honeydripper" and Cobra getting all Ike & Tina Turner funky on "Restless". The 'you can't be true' Albert King-style pleader "You Won't Do Right" by Bobby Marchan is excellent and I've a soft spot for the slow piano blues of "Can't Explain How It Happened" by Atlantic's 50ts R&B star Ivory Joe Hunter.

Disc 4 is the first showing for Sam & Dave with the superb double-whammy of "A Place Nobody Can Find" b/w "Goodnight Baby" (February 1965 on Stax 168) and April 1965 gave Stax their highest chart placing with Otis Redding's sublime "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)" at No. 2 on the R&B charts since "Green Onions" way back in 1961 hit the top. More nuggets on Volume 4 include the slick groove of "Jump Back" by Rufus Thomas where he's hitting an intruder on the head with a rolling pin - while Johnny Jenkins goes all Link Wray guitar-mad on the aptly titled "Spunky". While the audio on Jenkins might be a bit rough – there's no such problem on the Slo Soul of "A Woman's Love" by Carla Thomas or Otis Redding's monumental "That's How Strong My Love Is". The ultra rare "Got You On My Mind" by The Admirals is clearly dubbed from a disc but the heartbreaker "Biggest Fool In Town" by Gorgeous George boasts fabulous presence as he croaks his way through his 'being used' misery. "Candy" by The Astors will be a truly lovely discovery for most too. Brill also to have those rare non-album danceable B-sides - "Outrage" by Booker T & The MGs and "I'm Depending On You" by Otis Redding...what winners...

Disc 5 features more monsters of the genre – "Respect" by Otis Redding (a No. 4 R&B hit in August 1965) and the sophisticated Vocal Group Soul of The Mad Lads on their beautiful "Don't Have To Shop Around" (No. 11 R&B). It's amazing to think that something as sweet as Carla Thomas' "Stop! Look What You're Doin'" didn't score higher than No. 30 R&B for the first lady of Soul. Equally as affecting is "Crying All By Myself" from William Bell – here in powerfully emotive clarity. Hidden nuggets include the trumpet slick of George Hudson on the wickedly cool "Blue Groove" (The Do-Dads were part of Sir Isaac Hayes' backing band) and I've always loved Sam & Dave's infectious "I Take What I Want" covered to amazing affect by Rory Gallagher in a Rock-Soul mode on his 1975 album "Against The Grain" (a regular show-stopper at 'The Grove' dance I used to frequent in 1970s Dublin). Northern Soul fans will spread the talcum powder for "In The Twilight Zone" from The Astors, "Philly Dog" by The Mar-Keys and the decidedly groovy "Things Get Better" by Eddie Floyd – then swoon during the slow sets to the wonderful "Comfort Me" by Carla Thomas and tremble along with the quivering vocals of "I Want Someone" by The Mad Lads...

Disc 6 opens with the heavy-hitting guitar of Albert King on "Laundromat Blues" only to flow into the Pop/Soul of "Sugar Sugar" by The Mad Lads – a rare sickly-sweet miss for this classy act. The William Bell double entry puts his relationship advice of "Share What You Got (But Keep What You Need)" on the A-side with a plea to the youth to not be dumb and go "Marching Off To War" on the flip (Stax flexing its social conscience in May 1966 when the Draft and Vietnam loomed large over the young population). I've always loved Mable John's torch song "Your Good Thing (It's About To End)" on Stax 192 from May 1966 which Bonnie Raitt did a superlative version of on her 1979 Warner Brothers LP "The Glow" (a total winner written by Stax's secret songwriting weapons - Isaac Hayes and David Porter). Another lesser-heard slugger on here is Johnnie Taylor's excellent rasp on "Little Bluebird" - while the disc ends on Booker T's derivative and cheesy “Jingle Bells” – a merry jangle best left in the stocking...

Disc 7 opens with one of many Sam & Dave hits – where one minute their bopping with excitement on "You Got Me Hummin'" then they're worried deep about their gals on the fab "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" – surely the very definition of a Soul Torch Ballad. Bobby Wilson gets a rare outing on the corking mid-tempo "Let Me Down Slow". Booker T and his merry band of MGs once again show their uncanny knack for penning an utterly brill/cool instrumental - and even give the groovy little sucker a catchy name like "Hip Hug-Her". The same cool applies to the wonderfully titled "Mini-Skirt Minnie" – where Miss Minster is driving the boys wild with some very short apparel. Rarity collectors will love "The Spoiler" – a very 60ts Soul bopper by Eddie Purrell (written by the MGs Booker T. Jones and Donald "Duck" Dunn) while Southern Soul nuts will warm to Mabel John's smoocher "Same Time Same Place". And what can you say about the fabulous boogie of "Born Under A Bad Sign" – Albert King with hard luck and trouble as his only friends. I've also loved Sam & Dave's cover of Sam Cooke's "Soothe Me" on the A with the incendiary "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" on the B (another gem from the pens of Homer Banks and Allen Jones – hell I even like the Elvis Costello cover version of it on his 1980 "Get Happy!" LP). I'd admit though that the Duncan Cowell remaster of "I Can't Stand Up..." on the 2008 Ace Records 3CD Box Set "Take Me To The River..." is infinitely better than what's on offer here. Disc 7 sleeks out with "Don't Rock The Boat" – a guitar Soul bopper that deserved better that a No. 98 Pop chart position...

Disc 8 throws up an impressive array of hits as Stax opened up their release throttle. Otis and Carla shared vocal jabs on their cover of Eddie Floyd's "Knock On Wood" while Sam & Dave hit the No. 1 R&B spot with the irrepressible "Soul Man" in August 1967. Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" made for a belated No. 1 after his awful loss (a body blow to Stax and the Soul World). In-between we get lesser-known gems like the Motown dancer "How Can You Mistreat The One You Love" from Jeanne & The Darlings, the "...I wanna share..." smooch of "I'm Glad To Do It" by C.L. Blast and the 60ts Rock-Soul of "What'll I Do For Satisfaction" – a fabulous Doors-like groover from Johnny Daye where he wonders what happens when his baby is finally gone (my heart bleeds for the chap). By June 1967 (the exact week The Beatles release "Sgt. Peppers" around the world) - Rufus Thomas is already talking of 'Discotheques' that contain 'groovy chicks' in "Sophisticated Sissy" - while Booker T only wants to piano-boogie down at "Slim Jenkin's Place" (another instrumental winner from the kings of dancefloor filling). Northern Soul enthusiasts will love the genuinely infectious dancers "How Can You Mistreat The One You Love" by Jeanne & The Darlings and "Eloise (Hang On In There)" by William Bell...and women's emergence from the shadows of bad relationships in "I'm A Big Girl Now" sung by a genuinely moved Mable John. Love the pure Soul of Judy Clay's "You Can't Run Away From Your Heart" – a fantastic 'done me wrong' song that she sings like her sanity depends on it...and the piano-led seasonal instrumental "Winter Snow" by Booker T & The MGs will shock most with its beauty...

There’s a central weak point that applies to all three of these mammoth sets. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that of the 244 tracks on here – almost all are 'A-SIDES'. Huge wads of the B-sides were non-album tracks and in the age of the 45's dominance - Stax's quality control machine tried their damnedest to keep the standard of the flip-side up to the highs of the Radio-Plug on the A. So it’s a damn shame there aren’t more of those precious flips on this box (or Volume 2 and 3 for that matter). Also when you think of an obscure group like say THE ASTORS who produced only four 45s on Stax between 1963 and 1967 (139, 170, 179 and 232) – each is a nugget and beloved of collectors. There was in my opinion room on these sets for the flip-sides to a group that will probably never get a CD all to their own. You could of course argue this for so many acts on here (it's a hole worth mentioning in an otherwise wall of pure class - another set of 3 box sets beckons methinks). And on the AUDIO FRONT - I'd admit that some of these 1991 transfers have been much bettered on subsequent compilations – especially in the last ten years which has seen an explosion of Soul CD reissues from quality labels like Ace, Edsel, Raven, Rhino, Big Break Records, Light in The Attic and Hip-O Select (to name but a few). But I’d still argue that what you get here on Volume 1 for your three ten-spots is little short of astonishing – and may indeed be the best value Soul Box set 'ever'.

Volume 2 and 3 in the ‘Complete Stax Singles’ series (9 and 10CDs for each) originally turned up in 1993 and 1994 – and I’ve reviewed in detail their ‘mini box set’ reissues by Concord Music in December 2014 and March 2015. How cool is it in January 2016 to finally add the ‘granddaddy’ of them all 'Volume 1' to those other two on my fat and funky Soul shelves (yum yum).

Influential, sexy and hard-hitting Real Soul – 'Stax Records' was all of these things and more. And in truth I’ve loved this blinding little groover of a mini box set far more than is legal. Genius y’all...and then some...

PS: See also my in-depth reviews of Volume 2 and 3 - reissued in December 2014 and March 2015...

This review (and Volume 2 and 3) are part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those reference source titles is SOUL, FUNK & JAZZ FUSION - an E-Book with over 240 entries and 2200 e-Pages on Exceptional CD Remasters you need to know about. Purchase it on Amazon at the link below and search any artist or song - label - catalogue number - huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

No comments:

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc