Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Stax Of Music

Call it an overhaul of great soul music.

The Stax-Volt Music label, a historic mammoth of Southern soul/R&B music that swept the country from 1962 until 1974 when it closed its doors for the last time due to bankruptcy, has resurrected in a very big way. With the L.A-based Concord Music Group leading the soul revolution during the label's 50th-year anniversary and helping to revive the world-renowned music label to its former glory, Stax has since released a number of incredible re-issues, a few repackaged 'greatest hits' collections and are already working on new album releases for their new stars including neo-soul sensation Angie Stone, jazz trio Soulive and Black Moses himself Isaac Hayes.

We are pleased to say to announce that the double-disc Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration, the revived label's kick-off souvenir packaged like a collector's edition with a beautiful layout of photos and an intensive bio on the label from Rob Bowman, was released to the public in March - receiving great recognition and rave reviews for its consistency and for containing the big hits. Other projects including The Very Best of Rufus Thomas (a colossal 20-track compilation featuring all of Thomas' cool grooves) and The Very Best of Isaac Hayes (a single-disc greatest hit collection containing eighteen edit versions of Hayes' Stax hits) have since been released.

All of these promotions are being launched to celebrate the fifty-year anniversary of such a great musical institution. And you can tell it's a big deal...in fact, it's big business. The Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau has even adopted the Stax reputation into their 2007 campaign and remain instrumental in helping spread the word about the vast reputation the label has earned the city of Memphis over the years.

On June 22, Concord reunite some of Stax's living heroes on the stage of Orpheum Theater in Memphis and brought the audience to their feet with great tributes and celebrations of the label's history. American Idol judge Randy Jackson and rap pioneer Chuck D. were the event's hosts and helped give the gala a modern, cool outlook. But it was the performances of a recovering Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the M.G's, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Mavis Staples, the Soul Children and gospel sensation Rev. Rance Allen that made the night a memorable one. Also featured on the bill was Angie Stone, singing Shirley Brown's "Woman To Woman," and Otis Redding III singing "Try A Little Tenderness." Word at the Stax Site states that the show was taped and will be available on DVD in the fall. After reviewing the write-up at The Memphis Flyer and reading the stars that made this night one to not forget, we can't wait to get our copy.

On August 1, 2007, at 9:00 p.m (ET), Great Performances on PBS will air Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story - a special documentary focusing on the achievements made by Stax and featuring a number of the label's highlights and special performances.

Of course, the future of Stax Records still remains skeptical. We are not certain if the new artists will enjoy their tenure with the revived label or if they will match the capabilities and artistic definition of the giants of yesteryear. There are strong possibilities of it being a force in modern music, but who can match the contributions of Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, the Bar-Kays, Johnnie Taylor, Sam & Dave and Isaac Hayes. Of course, that list goes on and on. But it is beautiful to see the kind of work and valued input Concord is putting into this campaign. The expectations may be high for the label, but the endless possibilities continue to remain a figment of our soulful imaginations.


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