This 21-track collection focuses on some of the more obscure and funk-oriented music Stax put out in the first half of the 1970s. There are a few big names here and there, though not represented by famous tracks, such as the Staple Singers, the Bar-Kays, Albert King, and Rufus Thomas, and more moderately famous performers like Sir Mack Rice, Inez Foxx, the Emotions, the Sweet Inspirations, and Jimmy McCracklin. But a lot of the music is by artists most won't have remembered as being on the Stax roster, or on any other for that matter. On the whole it's OK, but not first-division period soul-funk crossover, sometimes recalling other, bigger artists too obviously, as Bernie Hayes does James Brown on "Cool Strut" (complete with "hit it!" exhortations). The Emotions' "From Toys to Boys" certainly sounds influenced by the kind of very early-'70s Motown production heard on some Jackson 5 records, as do to a lesser degree a couple of the other songs. As for the better moments, the blues-tinged "Big Leg Woman" by Israel "Popper Stopper" Tolbert was an actual 1970 R&B Top 20 hit that doesn't show up on many compilations, and the Bar-Kays' "Cold Blooded" is a cool, largely instrumental James Brown-like tune whose arrangement bears influences from both Philly soul and Santana. There's also Albert King's curious 1974 funk remake of "Crosscut Saw." The one previously unissued track is Rufus Thomas' "Do the Side Saddle."
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger