Various Artists

Stax Number Ones

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Founded in Memphis in 1961, Stax Records and its subsidiary imprint Volt Records released music that came to define the very notion of deep Southern soul in the late '60s and early '70s, and the company’s artist roster during those years is virtually a who’s who of the genre. In all, Stax/Volt had 15 singles hit the number one spot on either the R&B or pop Billboard charts (Otis Redding topped both charts at once with the posthumous “[Sittin’ On] The Dock of the Bay” in 1968 and the Staple Singers repeated the trick four years later with “I’ll Take You There” in 1972), and all of those number one tracks are collected here. All have become classics in one way or another, including Booker T. & the MG's’ “Green Onions” from 1962, Sam & Dave’s “Hold On! I’m Comin'” from 1966 and “Soul Man” from 1967, Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood” from 1966, Isaac Hayes’ cinematic epic “Theme from Shaft” from 1971, and Johnnie Taylor’s “Jody’s Got Your Girl and Gone,” also from 1971, and sort of Stax/Volt’s answer to Marvin Gaye and Motown Records’ “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” in that it featured the same kind of ominous, relentless rhythm, although it was good deal more lyrically specific -- Taylor actually named names. It’s a very impressive run over that dozen years, and Stax left a huge and soulful footprint on the pop music of the 20th century and beyond -- it’s impossible to imagine the world without Memphis soul.

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