This week was all about the Stax Soul Singles Box set, a 10 disc retrospective that the Concord Music Group was nice enough to release. Volume 2 covers 1968 through 1971 and this box covers 1972 through 1975. Both volumes feature stalwart Stax R&B artists including Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Carla Thomas, the Bar-Kays and William Bell, as well as bluesmen Little Milton, Albert King and Little Sonny, and “second generation” Stax hit makers like Jean Knight, the Soul Children, Kim Weston, the Temprees, and Mel & Tim.
While Volume 2 of this collection focuses on the era when Stax was forming its own identity, Volume 3 covers a very different era, one of success and excess, right before Stax was on the verge of shutting down. During this time period the label recorded a wealth of of different styles of popular black music, ranging from jazz and easy-listening to the blues and even the beginning stages of disco.
In 1976, faced with involuntary bankruptcy and an unsuccessful distribution deal with CBS Records, Stax was forced to close its doors. In his liner notes for Vol. 3, compilation co-producer Bill Belmont writes, “Stax’s difficult and inglorious end in no way diminishes its vital contributions to rhythm and blues and soul. Today, the music of Stax maintains a strong and steady presence, heard continually in cover versions by major artists, in movies and on television. Simply put, the Memphis Sound lives.”