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Soul Comes Home: A Celebration of Stax Records

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One More Time!

    People from all parts of the globe ascended on Memphis in late April 2003 for the grand opening of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music housed in a rebuilt Stax Records at one of the most famous addresses in the world 926 E. McLemore Avenue. For forty years, the timeless and superb recordings that came from this address have had people dancing all over the world. In Europe, for instance, Stax, with their down home groove heavy approach to Soul has arguably had even more of an impact than that of their chief competitor in the '60s, Motown. And now, here these fans were; not only getting to see and hear their heroes, but actually tour the rebuilt studio where Booker T. & the MGs played day after day as the house band behind a slew of spectacular entertainers including Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Blues God Albert King. The folks in charge could not have started things off any better as the great Eddie Floyd kicks the evening off with his 1966 smash "Knock On Wood". Sounding just like a teenager, the sixty-six year old looks great, and it is evident from his constant touring with The Blues Brothers, that he is very much on top of his game. And who's that playing those great licks behind Mr. Floyd? None other than co-writer and MGs' guitarist Steve Cropper. Floyd is followed by Jean Knight and her mega selling 1972 hit "Mr. Big Stuff" and then Stax's first true solo star, William Bell, warms the heart with his timeless first hit "You Don't Miss Your Water". The biggest and probably most pleasant surprise of the night came from former Stax artist Rance Allen. Some knew the name, but few had any idea what they were in store for. With the pipes of an opera singer, Allen (who is a legend in the Gospel field), slayed the audience with "That'll Be Good Enough For Me". He received a delayed standing ovation from the stunned crowd, who looked to be still trying to come to terms with what they just witnessed. There is just no way the CD or DVD could recapture the power of Allen's performance, and the effect he had on the audience (not to mention the artists back stage). This must be what James Brown meant when he talked about breaking out in a cold sweat. There were other Soul stars there who didn't record for Stax, but came to pay homage to the great label, including Percy Sledge. The main attraction of Memphis's other renowned R & B label (Hi Records), Al Green delighted the audience doing, of course, "Let's Stay Together", and also undoubtedly provided one of the night's highlights with his great "Love and Happiness". Another BIG legend was there, The King of Rock and Soul, Solomon Burke, paid tribute to Stax's biggest star Otis Redding. One has to conclude that Solomon Burke is the ONLY man alive who could dare do "Try a Little Tenderness" after Redding put his stamp on it. The house band for the event was no Booker T. & the MGs, but they were absolutely fantastic. Former Stax session men Bobby Manuel (guitar) and Lester Snell (organ) led the group of who's who's in Memphis including a top-notch horn section, former Bar-Kay guitarist Michael Toles, a great bassist named James Kinnard, and the wonderful former Malaco Records drummer James Robertson. Robertson is the only musician not credited in the CD notes, but he is, without question, the reason everything sounds as great as it does. Their backing behind Mavis Staples's super funky work out of her family's (The Staple Singers) Mack Rice penned hit "Respect Yourself" and Isaac Hayes conducting a brilliant and grand version of his "Theme from SHAFT" make these two of the greatest live performances captured on tape by Soul acts in a long, long time. Hayes is joined by Charles "Skip" Pitts, the original wah-wah guitar player on "SHAFT". There aren't enough superlatives to describe Pitt's playing. He should be a household name. Mavis Staples is joined by her

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