Thursday, August 30, 2007

STAX Records: Soulsville USA

"Soulsville USA"
The other night I was lucky enough to catch "Great Performances: Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story" for the second time. Not gonna lie, this is what music geeks dream about; an archivists view of the legendary rhtyhm and blues label that was home to Booker T & the MG's, Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, the Markays, the Bar-Kays, Mel & Tim, Sam & Dave & ISAAC HAYES! The documentary reports the history of the Memphis Soul factory and is a triumphant tale of men and women, black and white, working together to create something bigger than themselves, in a period of time when they couldn't even eat together at the same downtown diner. It seems like no big deal, but in the early 60's in Memphis, a town where racial hostility was, pardon my french, fucking karazee, the fact that the Stax studio and office was a sanctuary where creative people of any race or sex could unite and create music from the soul is a testament to the heart (and soul) of the human condition.

While the label is known by most as the home of Otis Redding, it also released breakthrough records like "Green Onions" (I guarantee you know this song even if you don't think you do) by Booker T & The MG's and the fiery inspiration of the Staples Singers "Respect Yourself."

Last night I flipped on the television just as Otis' segment at Monterey Pop was airing. Bone chilling. I've been lucky enough to own this on vinyl for years, inherited from my pops (Jimi Hendrix performance is the B-side!) and the electric versions of "Try a Little Tenderness" and "I've Been Loving You" are the undoubted pinnacle of a brilliant, but short career. I swear if you listen hard enough you can almost hear Otis' heart bursting from the seams.

Below are two of the most heart-wrenching songs of all time, as well as the trailer for the "Respect Yourself: The STAX Records Story." Pretty Pretty Please do yourself a favor and pick up this documentary and look for more STAX related posts in the coming weeks.

Otis Redding- I've Been Loving You
Otis Redding- Try A Little Tenderness

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