Monday, April 26, 2010

Apologies for my absence...

But I recently bought this, and nothing has mattered since:

The Complete Stax-Volt Singles, Vol. 1: 1959 - 1968. Stax Records was the Motown competitor based in Memphis, Tennessee, who produced, among others, Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Mable John, Isaac Hayes and Booker T. & the M.G's. It was always said that while Motown had the hits, Stax had the soul (okay, so it might have been the Stax people who said that, but, with all love for Motown, it's true - Stax's music had a gutteral quality that differed from Motown's pop sound).

The Stax story is heavy with tragedy and triumph. The label's heart, Otis Redding, died in a plane crash at 26, and only a few weeks later, the company learned that through an earlier contract with Atlantic Records, they didn't actually own any of Otis' reordings. Or any of their other musicians' work, for that matter.

A record company with no records, they were mostly rural musicians who learned the hard way that when entering business with a big old corporation, you should read the fine print. Shortly after, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel, Stax's defacto headquarters, throwing the racially integrated label into the heart of the civil rights battle.

But watching the PBS' Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, what is most amazing is how they recovered from those difficulties full of love and respect for their fellow musicians, and an appreciation of what they were a part of.

Now I only need Volumes 2 and 3, and I'm done buying music. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration.