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MORE BOOKER T.
& THE MG'S VINYL REISSUES
(May 24th, 2002)
Sundazed Records at www.sundazed.com have reissued two more high quality Booker T. & The MG's LPs on vinyl: Green Onions and Hip Hug-Her, complete with their original covers and liner notes.
THE STAX FANTASY
(May 18th, 2002)
The Fantasy Stax reissues are finally scheduled for next 18th June. For the first time on CD: Carla Thomas' Gee Whiz LP (with one alternate take) and The Mar-Keys' Last Night and Do The Pop-Eye LPs (on a twofer CD). You will also get William Bell's Soul Of A Bell great LP, already reissued some years ago by Atlantic/Rhino, but including this time the singles versions of You Don't Miss Your Water and Any Other Way, which were different from the LP's stereo takes.
Worth noting too, Albert King's Born Under A Bad Sign chef d'oeuvre, already available from Ace UK. All these CDs will be available through www.fantasyjazz.com.
(April 27th, 2002)
When you say legends in the
documentary world, DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus are at the top
of the list. The makers of such memorable and award-winning films
as "The War Room", "Startup.com", and "Monterey
Pop" are back with a look at the world of Rhythm and Blues
music, otherwise known as soul, from the 1960s and early 1970s.
But rather than make a "history of." film with lots of
archival footage, the Pennebaker and Hegedus instead have chosen
to weave together the stories of 10 legends of soul who are still
actively performing and sounding better than ever. They chose
their subjects with the help of Roger Friedman, a well-known New
York journalist (correspondent for Fox News and special editor
for Talk Magazine) who is a lifelong fan of the music and
supporter of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.
Together the Pennebaker Hegedus group set out to find out what had happened to the great soul stars whose music has been featured in such movies as The Commitments and is played day and night on radio stations in every city all over the world. The great days of soul music's wild popularity (1960-1975) were ended by a
ad-disco-and then succeeded by rap and hip hop. But soul music's influence remained stronger than ever. The hit songs of the era continued to be covered by new artists, and sampled by rappers. But where were the performers who'd made them popular? The producers were immediately attracted to an event that was being planned
in Memphis, Tennessee by High Stacks Records. High Stacks had cleverly taken its name from the remains of two famous labels, Hi and Stax, and was continuing to issue new material by legendary artists of the soul era. In the summer of 1999, High Stacks's Bobby Manuel planned a tribute to famed singer Luther Ingram ("If Loving You Is Wrong I Don't Want to Be Right"). Ingram had incurred huge costs after a kidney transplant operation, and Manuel figured a large scale benefit show would raise money to help him.
The result was a twelve hour show at Memphis's Four Points Sheraton which featured Stax's most famous performers: Rufus Thomas, his daughter Carla, William Bell, Sir Mack Rice, the Barkays with Ben Cauley, and a host of others. In addition, Hi Records' own queen of soul, Ann Peebles, was invited to join the group.
"It was like the Woodstock of southern soul," Friedman recalls. "There were so many incredible artists and performances, and only a few could be included in the feature film version. Thanks to the magic of DVD, the eventual home video release will include even more wonderful moments."
Most important from the Ingram tribute were the performances and interviews with Memphis's other "king" (Elvis being the best known) Rufus Thomas, whose hit records included "Walking the Dog" and "The Funky Chicken." Then age 82, Thomas-who'd started as a deejay-still had a weekly show on local radio station WDIA that was known the world over. By 1999, fans were even tuning in on the Internet to hear Rufus and Jay Michael Davis chat about the history of soul and play great records.
"We knew immediately that their show, which featured Rufus at his most beguiling, would become the backbone of the film," says co-producer Frazer Pennebaker.
What made the event even more important historically was that it reunited Thomas on stage with his daughter Carla. Known in the soul world as "Aretha before there was Aretha," Carla Thomas had had a string of hits like "Gee Whiz" and "BABY-Baby" not to mention duet hits with Rufus ("Cause I Love You So"), and with her close friend the late, great Otis Redding ("Tramp".) Yet Carla's fame preceded video and very little existed of her in any form. The Ingram tribute offered a chance to Pennebaker and Hegedus to capture father and daughter on film forever.
"The result was magic," Chris Hegedus recalls. "Both in rehearsal and in the final show, Rufus and Carla just zoomed beyond our expectations. It was lovely to see them together again, and to know we could finally have them for audiences to see in the future."
Sadly, Rufus Thomas did not live long enough to see the finished version of "Only the Strong Survive." He died at age 84 in December 2001, just as the film was being readied for Sundance. The movie is dedicated to his memory.
The surviving cast of the film, though, thrives and shines in "Only the Strong Survive." The performances, taken from various venues and shows filmed in 1999 and 2000, include:
Wilson Pickett-"In the Midnight Hour," "Land of 1000 Dances," "Soul Survivor"
Sam Moore--"Soul Man," "Hold On I'm Coming" and "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby"
Jerry Butler-"Only the Strong Survive" and "For Your Precious Love"
Mary Wilson-""Someday We'll Be Together" and "Love Child"
The Chi Lites-"Have You Seen Her?"
Ann Peebles-"(I Feel Like) Breaking Up Somebody's Home"
Rufus Thomas-"Walking the Dog"
Carla Thomas---"Gee Whiz" and "B-A-B-Y Baby"
And in a rare performance, Rufus and Carla singing "Night Time is the Right Time"
The Ingram tribute became the launching point for the film, and set the filmmakers off enthusiastically to find more shows, reunions, and events that brought together these wonderful performers.
Friedman had met Sam Moore, the legendary singer from the duo Sam & Dave, at a Rhythm and Blues Foundation dinner.
"Sam put on a show one night that people are still talking about. There he was, thirty years after Soul Man, and he was at the peak of his career. His voice never sounded better. We had to find out what happened to him."
Also in the summer of 1999, the filmmakers were able to capture Sam performing at a tribute show for the man who wrote all of his hits, the great Isaac Hayes. Known for his worldwide smash, "Theme from Shaft," Hayes and collaborator David Porter (not to be confused with Dave Prater, Sam's late singing partner) had gotten their start at Stax in the 1960s. They wrote many of the label's biggest hits including "Soul Man," "Hold On," "I Thank You," and "When Something is Wrong with My Baby."The latter song, which is the longest included in the film, also turned out to be one of its highlights. "We were worried that younger audiences might not be able to sit still for a five minute ballad," Friedman says. "But once you see and hear Sam, he's mesmerizing. At early screenings we were actually asked if there's a longer version!"
But underlying Moore's charm and performances is the graver story of his fall from fame, which he talks about candidly on screen. "I used to sell drugs all up and down here," he tells the filmmakers as they drive along New York's Eighth Avenue. "I stayed in a hotel, it was $8 a night." What drugs, he's asked? "Cocaine and heroine, same as Belushi," he replies. Fortunately, with help of his wife and manager Joyce Moore, Sam has been "clean" since 1982.
Punctuating "Only the Strong Survive" is the wit and wisdom of an R&B legend, Wilson Pickett. Nicknamed "The Wicked Pickett" back in the 60s, the Detroit-born singer started out with a group called the Falcons (which also produced two other soul legends, Eddie Floyd and Sir Mack Rice). Skipping Detroit's Motown, the gravelly voiced Pickett hooked up with Atlantic's Jerry Wexler and the rest was history. "In the Midnight Hour," "634-5789,"Land of 1000 Dances" were just a few of his many mega-hits. In 1999, Pickett was prepping his first album in more than a decade, called "It's Harder Now," and that's when the filmmakers caught up with him. "We were nervous," says Friedman. "There were legendary stories about him trying to kill the Isley Brothers once in a hunting lodge, another about him being expelled from the state of New Jersey. He'd had drug problems in the 1980s. The odds were against him."
But it turned out that Pickett had survived capably. His voice was in great condition and so were his spirits. "You could make a whole movie just about him," says Hegedus. "The gospel according to Wilson Pickett would be hilarious and you can see it in the film."
Pickett's hilarious memories of touring in early Detroit days with the Supremes are featured in the film, as are his stories about Aretha Franklin, about his own family, and about where he got his trademark growl. "That's the cornbread," he says. "You got to have the cornbread!"
Finally, the filmmakers want to remind everyone that this is a sneak preview and the film is not finished. "It's a work in progress," says Hegedus. "We knew we couldn't be ready in time for the Festival, but we are excited and grateful to have an audience to see it. We look forward to as much feedback as we can get. There are still some tweaks to come before its eventual release."With luck," Friedman says, "and help from our friends and supporters, that should be well before the end of 2002."
(Thanks to Cherrie Holden)
THREE PRE 68
STAX LPs PUBLISHED AT LAST ON CD
(March 30th, 2002)
Great news for the "blue" Stax lovers, especially the instrumentals freaks: no less than three LPs, never published on CD, are due for release next May by Fantasy Records (yes, Fantasy, not Atlantic!). These LPs were published by Atlantic in 1962, before Stax had started to published their own first LPs. These LPs were more and more difficult to find, at least in good condition.The Do The Pop-Eye LP is considered nowadays as a greatly underrated Mar-Keys album.Both Mar-Keys LPs will be sold as a twofer. Thanks so much, Fantasy Records.
A GREAT NEW MG'S
/ MAR-KEYS CD
(February 26th, 2002)
Let's Go / Good Groove / Slidin' /
Put A Label On It / Jazzy / Weird Stomp / Funky Folks Cha Cha /
Tic Tac Toe (Alternate) / Ain't It / Lawn Party / Consumption /
Three Leaf Clover / The Bo Vitch.
Booker T & The MG's
Candy / Peppy / Raw-Hide /
Gigglin' / Made In Memphis / Soul Twist / Settle Down / Blue
Peanut / Tighten Up / Saucy / Sassy / The Floyd.
A great new CD has
just been issued by Ace Records. It includes 25 previously
unissued tracks right from the Stax vaults.An absolute must
for all the Stax instrumentals fans.
(February 15th, 2002)
Following the release of his "lost album", straight from the Atlantic vaults (King Curtis backing), Sam & Dave did a great show in London on February 14th. Nicci Talbot was there.
If you closed your eyes last night
it could have been 1967. At the age of 68 you would have
thought that he may have lost a little of his edge, but it was
all there. That amazing voice, the showmanship... he may
not be able to do the splits anymore but he still had some of
those moves. He soared his way through:
Hold On I'm Coming, Knock on Wood, Ain't That A Lotta Of Love, I Can't Stand Up (For Falling Down), Starting On Over Again, Tennessee Waltz, Get Out My Life Woman, Part Time Love (my own highlight of the evening), Memphis Soul Stew, Wrap It Up, Soul Sister Brown Sugar, Shop Around, When Something is Wrong With My Baby (with Sam Brown), Soothe Me (with Sam Brown), I Can't Turn You Loose, I've Been Loving You Too Long (as a tribute to Otis), Plenty Good Lovin', I Thank You, Soul Man (complete with Blues Brothers shades), Mustang Sally, You Are So Beautiful To Me, Gimme Gimme Good Lovin (with Paul Carrick and Sam Brown).
During Get Out My Life Woman he threw off his red fringe jacket and after that slipped into some displays of dancing that some men half his age would struggle to manage. He radiated warmth and pleasure at the crowd's reaction... and speaking of the crowd it was great to see a large contingent of younger soul fans there as well as us mature ones!
The whole performance was beyond brilliant - All in all an evening to cherish forever...
ARCH 45 REISSUED
(January 4th, 2002)
The Montclairs' Arch single ARA-1305 (Hey You ! Don't Fight It! / Never Ending Love), distributed by Stax in 1968, is a very rare collectors' item nowadays. It has just been reissued on pure vinyl by Grapevine 2000 Records in UK. As far as I know, no connection with the Montclairs who recorded on Atco at the same period. You can order it at www.grapevine2000.co.uk. (NB: Arch Records was based in St Louis, Missouri and owned by the late Nick Charles, who recorded and produced for Stax in the early 60's).
(September 19th, 2001)
Ace Records have issued an instrumentals CD, including some rare 60's R&B tracks from various labels. Nice touch for the two Stax sides included there: "Whot's Happenin'!" by the Mar-Keys and "Red Beans And Rice" by Booker T. & The MG's as both are rare early Stax singles B sides, previously unavailable on CD. Red Beans And Rice (studio version) even was, until then, the one and only non CD MG's track.
(August 10th, 2001)
From Sherman Willmott: Shangri-la
Records will be
celebrating the release of Ron Hall's great new book and
compendium compilation cd, Playing for a Piece of the Door: A
History of Garage and Frat Bands in Memphis 1960-75. It's a
candid history and discography of over one hundred bands who
recorded at least one record in Memphis from 1960-75. From
nationally charting groups like the Box Tops, Sam the Sham and
the Pharaohs, the Gentrys and the Hombres to long-forgotten high
school rockers who cut a record, had their fifteen minutes of
fame, and then faded away, every Memphis garage band is included.
Includes many unpublished photos as well as a complete listing of
all band members and discographies of each band.
Though countless books have been written about Memphis Music--including those on Elvis, Stax, and the blues--this genre of Memphis music has never been exhaustively touched upon until now.
Stax & Volt record completists will be glad to know that many of the white rock & pop acts that appeared on Stax & its various
subsidiaries (Hip, Enterprise...) have sections in this book.
The book is an amazing candid history and discography of over one hundred bands who recorded at least one record in Memphis from 1960-75. Great pictures to boot! The cd contains 15 unforgettable gems from the golden era of Memphis music. Liner notes from garage rock authority Eric Friedl of Wipeout! and Goner Records fame round out this excellent slice of Memphis history when the Beatle boots met the soul of the South in garages all over Memphis!
Bands slated to play the book signing party include Jim Dickinson & his Catmandu Quartet, the Coachmen, the Castells, the Rapscallions, Lawson & Four More as well as members of the Goodees, the Guilloteens, and the Hombres among others. Hope you can make it! Saturday, September 1st 3-5 p.m.1916 Madison Ave. Memphis, Tennessee
NEW ACE CD
(August 3rd, 2001)
A new CD reissue by Ace Records of Rance Allen Group recordings for Stax and Gospel Truth, with the following tracks:
AIN'T NO NEED OF CRYING/THERE'S GONNA BE A SHOWDOWN/TALK THAT TALK (Pt 1)/SMILE/JOY/RING MY BELL/I GIVE MY ALL TO YOU/PUT YOUR HAND IN THE HAND/JUST MY IMAGINATION (JUST MY SALVATION)/GOD IS WONDERFUL/HE WILL SEE YOU THROUGH/THE PAINTER/HOT LINE TO JESUS/LYING ON THE TRUTH/I GOT TO BE MYSELF/STAND UP FOR LOVE/SECURITY.
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INDEX -- NEWS -- INFOS -- STAX TODAY -- FOCUS -- ADS -- LISTS -- LINKS -- PHOTOS -- CONTACT