MORE FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRAX: VOLT 45 RPM RARITIES 1960-1964.

More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968.

Nowadays, Pablo Picasso is regarded as one of the most important and influential artists in the history of art. Not only was he a painter, playwright, poet and printmaker, but a sculptor and ceramicist. Pablo Picasso also cofounded the Cubist movement, co-invented collage and invented constructed sculpture during his long and illustrious career. He was, without doubt, a revolutionary artist who was one of the most important figures in twentieth Century art. One of the most important periods of Pablo Picasso’s career was his Blue Period. However, it wasn’t just Pablo Picasso who enjoyed a Blue Period. So did Memphis-based Stax Records.

While Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period began in 1901 and lasted until 1904, Stax Records’ Blue Period lasted considerably longer. It began in June 1961, and lasted until March 1968. During that period, the famous blue label adorned a total of 225 singles that were released by Stax and Volt. These singles feature some of the best music Stax Records  released between 1961 and its bankruptcy in 1975.

Sixteen years later,  the 225 singles released by Stax and Volt during their Blue Period were released in 1991 as part of The Complete Stax/Volt Singles nine CD box set. This Magnus Opus also featured a selection of B-Sides from the Blue Period. Sadly, since then, the remainder of the Blue Period B-Sides have lain unreleased. That was until January 2016.

That was when Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records released The Other Side Of The Trax: Stax-Volt 45rpm Rarities 1964-1968, which featured twenty-four B-Sides from the Blue Period. Just over a year later, and Kent Soul return with the much-anticipated followup, More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968. It features old friends, familiar faces and some new names.

Another twenty-four tracks feature on More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968. This includes contributions from Stax royalty, including William Bell, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd and The Mar-Keys. There’s also songs from Barbara andThe Browns, The Premiers, Barbara Stephens, The Four Shells and Sir Mack Rice. Some of the artists feature on more than one occasion, with William Bell, Carla Thomas and Rufus Thomas all featuring four times.

Opening More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968 is Barbara and The Browns’ I Don’t Want Trouble. It was the B-Side of their third and final Stax single My Lover, which was released in April 1965. I Don’t Want Trouble was penned by Barbara Brown, and is a dynamic and irresistible dance track.

Three of William Bell’s four contributions were penned with Steve Cropper. They forged a successful songwriting partnership. An examples of this is What’cha Gonna Do, a defiant ballad that featured on the B-Side of Told You So in January 1963. Three months later, William Bell released Just As I Thought in April 1963 as a single. Tucked away on the B-Side was I’m Waiting On You where horns accompany his needy, hopeful vocal. In February 1964, William Bell released Who Will It Be Tomorrow as a single. On the B-Side was the heartfelt ballad Don’t Make Something Out Of Nothing. The final song from William Bell is One Plus One, which was written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.  It’s was the flip-side to Eloise (Hang On In There), when it was released in July 1967. One Plus One was tailor made for William Bell, who came into his own on this soul-baring ballad.

The Mar-Keys were formed in Memphis, in 1958, and became Stax’s house band in the label’s early years. Still, though, The Mar-Keys found time to enjoy successful  recording career.  In January 1963, The Mar-Keys released their eighth instrumental single Bo-Time, which featured The Dribble on the B-Side. Horns and a Hammond organ play leading roles in the sound and success of The Dribble, which showcases the considerable talents of The Mar-Keys. So does The Shovel, which was the B-side of Banana Juice when it was released in March 1965. Eight months later, in November 1965, The Mar-Keys released Grab This Thing  Pt. 1 as a single. On the B-Side was Grab This Thing  Pt. 2,  where Steve Cropper’s searing guitar takes centre-stage on what was one The Mar-Kays’ finest singles. 

The Premiers only ever released one single on Stax, Make It Me. Sadly, it failed to make any impression on the charts, and The Premiers left Stax. However, Make It Me was one of the first songs penned by Isaac Hayes and David Porter songwriting team. They also wrote the B-Side You Make A Strong Girl Weak. It’s an engaging, memorable and soulful reminder of another musical age, from The Premiers.

Having just signed to Stax, Eddie Floyd released Things Get Better (When I’m With You) in March 1966. It was a taste of what was to come from Eddie Floyd. So was Good Love, Bad Love which Eddie Floyd wrote with Al Bell. It’s a beautiful ballad that showcases a talented and versatile singer-songwriter, who would bring success Stax’s way.

Before Stax, there was Satellite, which Jim Steward and Estelle Axton founded in 1959. A year later, Carla and Rufus released Cause I Love You as a single. Atlantic Records on hearing the single, picked it up and released it on their Atco imprint. While Cause I Love You wasn’t the success Atlantic Records had hoped, it lead to them offering Stax a seven year distribution deal. This proved to be a game-changer for the nascent label. All this was possible because of Cause I Love You, which features a hidden gem of a ballad on the B-Side, Down Deep Inside.

Barbara Stephens released a trio of singles for Stax between October 1961 and March 1962. The second single was The Life I Live, which gave Barbara Stephens a hit locally. This resulted in Atlantic Records releasing The Life I Live nationally. Alas, the single failed to trouble the charts. Hidden away on the B-Side, was a Barbara Stephens composition I Don’t Worry. It’s a mid tempo slice of R&B which showcases a defiant, powerhouse of a vocal. 

Carla Thomas never turned her back on Stax, despite receiving many offers from other labels. By the time she released Something Good (Is Going To Happen To You) in  December 1966, she was an established artist. On the B-Side was the confessional ballad It’s Starting To Grow. It shows how Carla Thomas was maturing as a vocalist. In March 1968, Carla Thomas released confessional A Dime A Dozen. Hidden away on the B-Side was  I Want You Back,  a catchy and memorable mid-tempo track.

The Four Shells released their one and only single Hot Dog (My Baby’s Comin’ Home) on Volt in May 1966. On the B-Side was delicious dance track Reputation. Fifty-one years later, and it’ll still fill dance-floors on the Northern Soul scene.

Closing More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968 is Carla Thomas’ Don’t Let The Love Light Leave. It’s the B-Side of A Woman’s Love, which was released in October 1964, and reached number thirty-nine on the US Billboard 100.  Elements of R&B and gospel feature on Don’t Let The Love Light Leave while  the future Queen of Stax delivers a hopeful, soulful vocal. One of  Carla Thomas’ best songs it seems has been kept until last.

Following up the critically acclaimed compilation The Other Side Of The Trax: Stax-Volt 45rpm Rarities 1964-1968 was never going to be easy. Not only has compiler Tony Rounce has managed to so, but surpassed the quality of the first instalment in this series. That comes as no surprise, as Tony Rounce has compiled countless compilations. He also had a plentiful supply of Stax Records’ B-Sides that have never made it onto CD to choose from.

Twenty-four of them featured on More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968. It features familiar faces, new names and plenty old friends. Some of these artists, including William Bell, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd and The Mar-Keys   enjoyed long and successful careers at Stax Records. Other artists enjoyed just a short stay at Stax Records. That proved to be  the case for Barbara and The Browns, The Premiers, Barbara Stephens and The Four Shells. Despite playing only a walk-on part in the Stax Records story, they contributed towards the label’s legacy.

It was previously documented on a trio of box sets. The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968 was released in 1991, with The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Volume 2: 1968-1971 following in 1993. Completing this overview of Stax Records’ musical legacy was The Complete Stax /Volt Soul Singles, Volume 3: 1972-1975 in 1994. These three box sets were the most comprehensive overview of the music released by the Stax Records’ family. Despite filling twenty-seven CDs, there wasn’t enough space for some B-Sides on these three lovingly compiled box sets.

While The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968 covered every single released Stax Records’ Blue Period, only a selection of selection of B-Sides featured in the box set. Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Record decided to rectify this with the release of The Other Side Of The Trax: Stax-Volt 45rpm Rarities 1964-1968 in January 2016. This was followed recently by More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968. Both compilations are a reminder, if any was needed, of Stax Records’ Blue Period. 

While Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period was a landmark period in his career, so was Stax Records Blue Period. It was when Stax and Volt released some of its best and most successful music. The famous blue label that adorned adorns the 225 singles that were released by Stax and Volt between June 1961 and March 1968 signifies quality soul music. This includes the twenty-four B-Sides on More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968. They’re a  reminder of what was a golden period for Stax Records, which nowadays, is regarded as one of soul music’s greatest labels.

More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968.

 

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