VA “Never To Be Forgotten: The Flip Side Of Stax 1968-1974″ | Light in the Attic
The story of Stax Records is one of the most unbelievable success and failure stories ever. As one of the biggest labels in the 60′s and 70′s, they become the standard for integrated racial business practices and left a trail of musical greatness that is unparalleled. Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Otis Redding and many others would carry the label and the hundreds of artists who shared the label with them into something that warranted a mimmick of Woodstock in Wattstax. With a bad record distribution deal in Atlantic Records, Stax and their associate labels would loose all rights of the masters to the entire catalog in the 60′s. The label would put all of their eggs in one basket from this aftermath and release over 30 singles and over 20 full length albums in the span of a year. They knew all they needed was that one massive hit and the label would be reborn. They got that with Issac Hayes and a legendary label would truck on for almost a decade longer. I have always been interested in any Stax release I can get my hands on and Light in the Attic records has presented the most comprehensive set of the label from the last stretch of the label. The forgotten era that defined how strong their foundation was to surface back again.
The prestigious Light in the Attic records dives deep into the Stax vaults with Never To Be Forgotten: The Flip Side Of Stax 1968-1974 and highlights the end period of the label when they innovated and become just as strong as they were with the distribution help of Atlantic Records. Featuring ten hand picked 45″ singles from the Stax archives in the transitional phase of the 60′s into the 70′s, this covers many of the popular hits that dominated radio and defined the labels heart and soul in the second phase of Stax. Otis Redding’s death in the 60′s would serve as a huge hit to Stax and the recovery of the label can be heard in full force on Never To Be Forgotten: The Flip Side Of Stax 1968-1974.
The contents of each single are placed in a really cohesive timeline, showing where the label and subsidiaries were taking the public. With the inclusion of the first Blaxpoitation music before it was coined such a thing, early funk stompers, doo wop, one of the earliest examples of Earth, Wind and Fire before they got huge and much more, this is a collection you can’t miss if you love soul music. Each single was carefully prepared in a really authentic manner with one of the most comprehensive booklet I have seen for any release. 80+ pages in length, the liners break down everything you will ever need to know about the contents of this package along with a full examination into what made Stax such a unique label, rare photos, exclusive interviews with the people who ran the label and so much more. It’s a wonder how they packed this release with so much info. When the liner notes speak about the marketing side of things and how they would make calls all day to radio stations to make sure their artists were played, you realize this is a time far separated from the advent of the internet and easier access points to connecting into promo. They really had to work to get this music out there and the musicians were all at the top of their game because of it.
Stax is the type of label that will always be timeless and it is with releases like Never To Be Forgotten: The Flip Side Of Stax 1968-1974 we are fortunate enough to get an even wider perspective and appreciation of something that defines a really important aspect of American culture. The packaging on this release is beyond words and will fit perfectly into the collection of anyone who loves soul, R&B, funk and other forms of black music in the 60′s and 70′s. My favorite 45″ from the collection has to be “The Whole Damn World Is Going Crazy” from John Gary Williams, penned in 1974. As a reaction to John reading the paper one morning and reading headlines of poverty, war and so many other ill realities, the gentleness and glowing aura of this track is spellbinding. Almost all of the tracks are new to my collection and this will without a doubt stay in my collection.
45″ rpm included:
- Mable John: “Running Out b/w Shouldn’t I Love Him” (1968)
- Bernie Hayes: “Cool Strut Pt. 1 b/w Cool Strut Pt. 2″ (1970)
- Lee Sain: “Them Hot Pants Pt. 1 b/w Them Hot Pants Pt. 2″ (1971)
- Johhnie Taylor: “Hijackin’ Love b/w Love In The Streets” (1971)
- Melvin Van Peebles: “Sweetback’s Theme b/w Hoppin’ John” (1971)
- Mad Lads: “Gone! The Promises Of Yesterday b/w I’m So Glad I Fell In Love With You” (1971)
- Emotions: “My Honey And Me b/w Blind Alley” (1972)
- Rufus Thomas: “Itch & Scratch Pt. 1 b/w Itch & Scratch Pt. 2″ (1972)
- Roy Lee Johnson & The Villagers: “The Dryer Pt. 1 b/w The Dryer Pt. 2″ (1972)
- John Gary Williams: “The Whole Damn World Is Going Crazy b/w Ask The Loneley” (1974)
Lavishly Packaged Love Letter To The Final Years Of Stax!
Stax Records was black and white coming together in a pioneering integrated music enterprise. Native Tennessean Jim Stewart founded Satellite in the late 1950s but soon joined up with sister Estelle Axton and rechristened the label Stax Records (the “St” and “ax” of Stax respectively). This ever-evolving Memphis-based label became one of the landmark touchstones of soul, R&B, and funk throughout the 1960s and 70s, its finger snapping logo brand synonymous with sonic quality and heartfelt integrity. Releasing hundreds of long players and 45-rpm singles during its heyday, the imprint and its many subsidiaries also birthed the legendary careers of Booker T & The M.G.’s, Otis Redding, and Isaac Hayes.
Never To Be Forgotten: The Flip Side Of Stax 1968-1974 is Light In The Attic’s Record Store Day 2012 love letter to some of the lesser-known Stax Records artists, collected and presented in a knock-out 7” vinyl box set. Containing 10 faithfully reproduced 45-rpm singles from Mable John, Bernie Hayes, Lee Sain, Melvin Van Peebles, Roy Lee Johnson & The Villagers, and John Gary Williams, in addition to label stalwarts Johnnie Taylor, Mad Lads, Emotions, and Rufus Thomas, prepare to move, groove, and be enthused. Never To Be Forgotten comes housed in a beautiful flip-top container case replete with an extensive 84-page bounded booklet brimming with informative interviews with the surviving musicians contained within and liner notes by Memphis writer Andria Lisle, candid photographs, and personal anecdotes from Stax enthusiasts and label veterans Stewart, co-owner Al Bell, and promotions manager Phillip Rauls. Plus, a free Download Card for those turntable-less moments.
While Stax met a dramatic and disappointing fate in a tangled web of business, politics and finance in 1975, its enduring legacy shines on as one of the all-time great record labels. If industry competitor Motown billed itself as “The Sound Of Young America,” then Stax certainly earned each and every letter of its namesake “Soulsville U.S.A.” Though both labels brought black music to the United States and the rest of the world, Stax’s underdog status combined with a deep catalogue of the most life affirming and authentic sounds around shall retain a special place in our hearts, never to be forgotten.