Various Artists

3000 Volts of Stax

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As the previous two volumes had done, 3000 Volts of Stax (1995) is a soul music treasure trove of remnants, alternate takes, and hard-to-find flipsides from the glory days of the Memphis-based Stax and Volts record labels. Across the board, these overlooked masterpieces equate -- if not occasionally surpass -- the plethora of hits that consistently emanated from those legendary studios. With the sole exception of David Porter's highly affable mid-tempo "Win You Over" -- which makes its digital debut on this disc -- none of the tracks have ever been heard before. What's more is that these platters are a far cry from what most folks consider when listening to outtakes or other cutting room floor dregs. Fittingly, the labels' house band Booker T. & the MG's commence the festivities with their initial swipe at Willie Dixon's "Spoonful." They bob and weave through the instrumental with Booker T. Jones (organ) and Steve Cropper (guitar) laying down some scrumptious lines behind the rhythm section of Donald "Duck" Dunn (bass) and Al Jackson, Jr. (drums). The legacy of Otis Redding (vocals) needs no embellishment; however, his unique musicality is unmistakable on this waltz-tempo rendering of the ballad "Come to Me," which differs from the three other versions Redding recorded in several prominent ways, the least of which are Cropper's upfront fretwork and the horn section augmentation. The Big O's other contribution, "Remember Me," sports some interesting lyrical alterations and improvisational vocal interjections as well. Other not-to-be-missed solid soul nuggets on 3000 Volts of Stax are Albert King's alternate take of his signature "The Hunter," or the pair of Eddie Floyd cuts featuring a cover of Sam & Dave's "I Got Everything I Need" and lucky take 13 of his full-blown proto-rocker "Big Bird." Over the course of the 21 tunes, there are a few lesser-known acts, such as the Stars of Virginia and their gospel-tinged ensemble choir vocal "Count Your Many Blessings" or Bobby Marchan's groovin' take on Rosco Gordon's "Just a Little Bit" -- which is retitled "Wee Little Bit (Just a Little Bit)" here. This compilation concludes with the inimitable Ollie Hoskins leading the Dixie Nightingales through a previously unearthed take of the sublime "All I Need Is Some Sunshine in My Life." This instalment should be considered a vital addition to any and every soul music enthusiasts' collection. It arguably bests the other highly recommended entries in the "Volts of Stax" series in terms of sheer volume of unforgettable and undeniably brilliant lost rhythm and blues classics.

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