Album Reviews – September 2012 by Colin Bryce

Nobody Wins, Stax Southern Soul 1968-1975 (Kent/Ace)

By all accounts the tail end of Stax Records business life wasn’t very pretty. The label still managed to put out some great sounds but relationships within the label had been damaged, the MGs connection was done and things were being recorded outside of Stax’s own studios with a number of acts brought in that some argued weren’t really in keeping with the identity Stax had forged for themselves.

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This collection includes some great tracks by some great talent but it also includes some things a Stax fan most likely can live without. I personally find Calvin Scott’s take on “Never Found Me a Girl” considerably inferior to Eddie Floyd’s original take. The Soul Children certainly shone brighter than “Move Over” and the same could be said of William Bell’s “Love on Borrowed Time” and the great Johnnie Taylor’s “Will You Love Me Forever.”

Full marks on Johnny Daye’s “Stay Baby Stay” (co-written with Steve Cropper), Mable John’s “Shouldn’t I Love Him”, the Al Green-ish “Groovin’ On My Baby’s Love” by Freddie Waters (one of those licensed to Stax and recorded elsewhere), Inez Foxx’s “Crossing Over the Bridge” and of course the inclusion of the great Ollie and the Nightingales’ “You’re Leaving Me.” Ollie is and was the bizness. I can’t think of a track recorded by him that ever disappointed me – and that includes those he recorded right up until the very end of his career. RIP Ollie.

All in all this is worth hearing but fans of Stax will most likely feel the frustrations – once again – of how one of the great labels and studios were left at the losing end of the record industry game. (21 tracks.)

Lost Soul Gems from Sounds of Memphis (Kent/Ace)

A decidedly superior collection of rare and recently unearthed tracks of southern groovin’ recorded for the Sounds of Memphis label.

Carl Sims’ (former Bar-kay vocalist) passionate pleader “Pity the Fool” gets things going here and it just keeps getting better. Dan Greer’s “I Don’t Want No One Way Love” that follows is a tune with, what I consider to be, considerable hit potential and while Dean Rudland’s liner notes cover the basics of the labels story we don’t have a track by track breakdown to follow so I’m left wondering how this stunner came to be left in the vault. Truly a shame whatever the story cause this little item is a gem. The same can be said of any number of songs included here. Otis Wheat’s version of “Tennessee Waltz” is as fresh as a new born babe and the raw basic funky grooves of Fran Farley’s “Stop Boy” and Rudolph Taylor’s “What’s That You Got” are neither tired nor hidden behind in a glossy production in some vain effort to make them more than they are – simple and straight up groovin’.

Better-knowns like George Jackson, Barbara Brown and Louis Williams (Ovations) are featured here as well. Jackson with a couple of typically deep feeling cuts. Brown with an alternative take of “I Don’t Want To Have To Wait” and “So Cruel” and Louis Williams with an easy pop-soul number full of poppin’ bass and electric piano. The recordings run late 60s through the early 70s so there are some stylistic changes but apart from maybe the, uh, sensitive “When I Look Inside” by Takelia there is nothing but lost soul gems as the title of the release suggests. (22 tracks.)

Clarence Carter: The Fame Singles Volume 1, 1966-1970 (Fame/Kent/Ace)

Have they ever come any funkier than Clarence Carter? Don’t think so. The laugh, the guitar lines, the lyrical themes, the man got it. The collected Fame singles included here from 1966-1970 features a number of his classics from “Slip Away”, “Tell Daddy” (driven further into hitsville when Etta James re-did it as “Tell Mama”), “Snatching It Back”, and “Funky Fever” to the truly incredible “Looking For A Fox”. “Looking For A Fox” is one of the songs I can never get enough of. It has so much subtle power that it is simply impossible NOT to get your behind in gear. Unreal.

Larger than life deep ballads, soulful southern grooves and funky fevers that one just never hears anymore – buy it. (24 tracks.)

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Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

One of Canada’s late 70’s “punk” rock crowd and from 1997 to 2007 the fellow behind Mohair Sweets print and webzine. Currently passes the time by playing the odd gig or two, shaking his head, wringing his hands and pondering whether or not the tape vaults of the legendary Pirates are really exhausted.

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Originally posted 2012-09-11 10:24:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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