=" Various Artist
" Stax Number Ones "
Stax Records

Blueswax 8
Reader Rating 7

We've Heard It All Before, but It's Still Great Music!, (04/08/10)

Stax Records had its humble beginnings in the early '60's. All in all, the Memphis-based recording company produced fifteen tunes that screamed up the charts to reach the highly cherished number one Billboard ranking. That's the premise of this new recording that the division of Stax Records compiled, courtesy of Stax' latest owners, Concord Records. It's important to note that Stax delivered these fifteen number ones during their somewhat brief twelve years of existence. Johnnie Taylor cashes in the trifecta, the only artist to have three number-one hits included on this compilation: "I Believe In You (You Believe In Me)," "Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone" and his massive "Who's Making Love" which helped define the label's soulful and funky imprint. Plus, who can forget the late great Isaac Hayes' "Theme From Shaft" which would also win an Oscar for best song.

Appropriately, the instrumental "Green Onions" opens this disc which was the first release by Booker T, & The MGs, certainly an auspicious and an incredibly memorable debut. The MGs went on to become the house band for Stax, (both in-studio and on the road) and backed many of the stars on the label. Most noteworthy, the included Otis Redding's "Sittin' On The Dock of the Bay," Eddie Floyd's "Knock On Wood," and the dynamic Sam and Dave who doubles deep to right with two number ones here: "Hold On! I'm Comin'," and "Soul Man."

When you add other great tracks "In The Rain" by The Dramatics, "Mr. Big Stuff" (arranged by the great Wardell Quezergue) by Jean Knight, plus songs by Rufus Thomas, The Staple Singers, and Shirley Brown, you have an compilation that stands tall!

"Stax Number Ones" presents the best of American rhythm and blues. These tunes are a mandatory slice of American roots music and still sound as fresh as they did decades ago. Stax gave the world true-grit soul, could you shout me an amen to that? Groove on. * Note: Also included is an excellent twenty-page booklet with pictures of the artists and a very nice detailed track listing with numbered tracks and time lengths for each song, but no liner notes.

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at www.SoundsofBlue.com. Bob maybe contacted at: bob8003@yahoo.com

Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com