Various Artists

UK Stax Singles, 1968-1975: Magical Moments in Soul Music History

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British Stax singles, including some of the 23 assembled here, sometimes differed from the label's U.S. release schedule in selection of tracks and designated A-sides. Really, though, this CD is just an excuse to bring together a couple of dozen or so tracks from Stax's later years, most of them not too well known; only Isaac Hayes' "Walk on By" and the Staple Singers' "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)" should be familiar to the casual fan. Many of Stax's bigger names are represented -- the Staple Singers, Johnnie Taylor, William Bell, Booker T. & the MG's, the Dramatics -- alongside lower-profile artists like Shirley Brown, the Emotions, and the Rance Allen Group, and a bunch of singers that you might not even remember were on the label (Johnny Daye, Margie Alexander, the Newcomers, Darrell Banks, J.J. Barnes, Frederick Knight). It's a decent, though not stunning, cross-section of sounds from a time when Stax was losing its identity, but still putting out respectable late-period Southern soul with encroaching shades of funk and disco. As for some of the better lesser-known items, J.J. Barnes' "Baby Please Come Back Home," actually first released in 1967 as a single on Revilot (for which it made the R&B Top Ten), is a good emulation of the tougher sound of late-'60s Motown. Shirley Brown's "It Ain't No Fun," from Stax's last gasp in 1975, is a good lush-yet-tortured ballad (complete with spoken testimony in the middle), showing there was more to her than her famous hit "Woman to Woman." [This U.K. import is not available for sale in North America.]

Track Listing

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blue highlight denotes track pick