Stax Records Memphis Soul Music Rhythm & Blues Otis Redding Eddie Floyd Booker T. & The MG's

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(January 28, 2004)

Hard Bargain

Just received a fine CD from the group Hard Bargain. The main singer, by the name of King Arthur Canady, has a voice more than strongly reminiscent of Otis Redding's and the whole record is firmly in the old school southern soul style though recorded in New York.

The tracks are: Slip Away, Tramp, 634-5789, Pretty Woman Blues, People Get Ready, More Blues Than I Can Use, It's My Time, Room 244, Cheatin' On You, Worried Life Blues, I Wouldn't Treat A Dog. All tracks are produced by Michael Cohen.

The group members are: King Arthur Canady (lead vocals), Alan Grossinger (guitar/vocals), Michael Cohen (bass, vocals), Eric Mullins (saxophone), Ron Duncan (drums, vocals), Rafik Cezanne (sax), Bill Wright (lead guitar).

After the recent CDs from McLemore Avenue and the Bo-Keys (see underneath), it is good to know that the Stax/southern soul sound is not dead.

This CD can be ordered at and you will be also able to hear some short samples.

Another CD is due later in 2004.


(January 16, 2004)


"WATTSTAX" film production alumni were recently reunited!  Director MEL STUART, camera operator LARRY CLARK and audio engineer TOM SCOTT were at Fantasy Studios recording a commentary track for the upcoming "WATTSTAX" DVD. "WATTSTAX - The Special Edition" is scheduled for a summer, 2004 release by Warner Home Video.


(November 29, 2003)

The Memphis Garage Rock Yearbook

Published by our friend Sherman Willmott from Shangri-La Records, Ron Hall's second book is a gorgeous hardbound coffee-table style collection that contains over 300 images of obscure to legendary Memphis garage rock bands, presented in true yearbook fashion.

Includes Tommy Burk and the Counts, Jesters, Flash & The Casuals, Guilloteens, Gentrys, Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs, Box Tops, Castels, Village Sound, Moloch, Big Star, Changin' Tymes, Breakers, Radiants, Shades, Ole Miss Downbeats, Jynx, Ronnie & The Devilles, Coachmen, Escapades, Lawson And Four More, Poor Little Rich Kids, Rapscallions, King Lears, Scepter, Short Kuts, Chasers, Memphis Goons, Travis Wammack Group, Knowbody Else, and many more....

It appears on this site as some of these garage groups cut records on Stax' HIP subsidiary label and were actually recorded and produced at Stax. Some were also published on Ardent Records during the period it was distributed by Stax. Some interesting photos shot at Stax, such as the one below, which shows the Poor Little Rich Kids group in the Stax control room with Jim Stewart (1969?). The stack of tapes on the control board are all Otis Redding master tapes, perhaps gathered here for the editing of the two Otis Redding most mortem Atco LPs. 

Don't hesitate to pick this little gem up, available at $34.99 from Shangri-La Records at

Poor Little Rich Kids at Stax


(November 26, 2003)


Soul Comes Home DVD

The Soul Comes Home CD and DVD are now available from the Stax Museum shop and this time at normal prices, not the high PBS sponsoring prices. A must buy. Go to to order on line or by mail, fax, phone, etc. Here is Tim Whitsett review of this fantastic event. Fortunately, we were there together!

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 fantastic drummer Tim Austin and her sister Yvonne on backing vocals.

Fans were also treated to the real deal, the three remaining members of Stax's house band. On one of the DVD's great special features (entitled Booker T. & the MGs: Cookin' Up Green Onions), keyboardist Booker T. Jones goes to extra lengths to point out the genius of their late drummer. "The essence of the Stax sound had EVERYTHING to do with the drumming of Al Jackson, Jr.." When Jones, Steve Cropper, and bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn go into "Green Onions" it is as if time has stood still for the last forty years. They now employ the services of Steve Potts, who happens to be Al Jackson's cousin and a hell of a drummer in his own right. Somehow, as great as Potts is, it doesn't have the same fire, the same swing, as "Green Onions" live in the '60s with Jackson. But after Cropper's solo, Booker starts playing some really inspired things, the tempo changes, and it becomes as fresh as the first time you heard it. As awesome as Cropper and company finish this off, it just doesn't compare to what they did next. Their second biggest hit, "Time Is Tight" was a ten minute plus tour de force that reached absolute epic proportions. I saw them live a month before this concert, and this must have been the first time they ended the instrumental staple this way. They have perfected it, and they left the audience enthralled. This is what they came for. For some absolutely unforgivable reason "Time Is Tight" was not included on this DVD or on the CD. I am not exaggerating when I say this is nothing short of a crime. Instead we get to see Public Enemy's Chuck D. rapping over The Bar-Kays' great "Soul Finger" and hear another typically dreadful Percy Sledge reading of "When a Man Loves a Woman". And here are Booker T. & the MGs, the creators of the sound that's being celebrated, getting shortchanged. And also, there's no appearance from The Memphis Horns, though trumpeter Wayne Jackson and saxophonist Andrew Love did run through a couple of numbers they did with the MGs in the early sixties when they were known as The Mar-Keys. Alas, they did not make the final cut either. At least this means that there will be consistency in Stax Records and their primary artists not getting the attention they deserve.

The one sight that will forever remain in my mind is that of drummer James Robertson and his permanent smile. This is just plain ole feel good music. There is nothing like it. They should build a museum!

Tim Whitsett III


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