Soul - Released January 18, 2019 | Dockland Music


Soul - Released October 19, 2018 | Craft Recordings

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
1968 was a pivotal year in Stax Records' history and a fascinating story in itself. Otis Redding (their biggest star) and four members of the Bar-Kays were killed in a plane crash in December 1967. Their distribution agreement with Atlantic Records was dissolved, resulting in the loss of several more artists from Atlantic, and in the loss of their entire back catalog to Atlantic, which meant Stax earned no revenue from its previous recordings. Then, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis exacerbated racial tensions not just nationwide, but acutely in Stax's hometown of Memphis (King was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers). Rising from the ashes, Stax had an ambitious plan to create an entirely new catalog in just over a year. Otis Redding's posthumous classic "Dock of the Bay" was a tremendous help in getting the label off the ground again. But the model of a house band and single producer that had given Stax their legendary sound was not going to work for the amount of material that had to be created in order to give them a solid catalog. To that end, they had to bring in outside producers, which began to upset what had essentially been a cooperative up to that point. At the same time, the music business was shifting from singles sales to album sales, and Stax was keen to make that transition as well. All this is extensively chronicled in the accompanying book. As far as the music, it's all top-notch, but you can hear the change in sound taking place. Of course, there are songs you recognize, but there are at least as many that you probably don't. Despite the pervasive unrest, the songs never get overtly political. Even "Tribute to a King" isn't about Dr. King, but about the King of Soul Music, their friend Otis Redding. The music stands on its own, of course, but the story behind it all is remarkable and largely untold. Stax '68 is a great collection of music, and this excellent set places it in a proper historical context, telling the story of the rebirth of one of America's great soul labels. ~ Sean Westergaard

Soul - Released September 14, 2018 | Rhino

Between their first and second albums, Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band taped a May 18, 1968 performance at the Haunted House night club in Hollywood for possible future use. Edited versions of a half-dozen of the songs appeared on their 1968 album Together, and an edited version of another ("Bottomless") was issued as a B-side. But this two-CD set, issued on Rhino Handmade a good 40 years later, has about two-and-a-half hours from the performance, with complete and uncut versions of the aforementioned songs. On the one hand, it's a valuable historical document; there aren't all that many live recordings of significant late-'60s soul-funk bands, and this one has both very good sound and very tight performances. On the other hand, it's not the group at their most interesting, since all but three of the songs are covers. Granted, they sound like one of the best cover bands you could have possibly heard at the time, playing with both guts and precision, and taking some liberties (some improvisational) with the source material, though not too drastic or lengthy ones. They're certainly versatile as well, taking on hits from Motown, Stax, James Brown, Sly Stone, the Impressions, Jackie Wilson, and others, as well as the occasional surprise or relatively obscure tune, like Willie Bobo's "Fried Neck Bones" and Otis Redding's "Sweet Lorene." Yet the hit-dominated set list just isn't the place to hear the outfit at their most original and innovative, though they offer fair original instrumentals in Wright's "The Joker" and Gabriel Flemings' "Bottomless." It does, however, also include the jam that grew out of "Funky Broadway," "Do Your Thing," that with some editing turned into their first hit. As usual, Rhino Handmade's packaging of this archival release is excellent, with lengthy historical liner notes. ~ Richie Unterberger

Soul - Released July 27, 2018 | Dockland Music

Soul - Released June 29, 2018 | Ace Records

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Soul - Released June 22, 2018 | Rhino Atlantic

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Soul - Released May 18, 2018 | Rhino Atlantic

In 1967, Otis Redding is a king who even managed to sneak onto the stage of the pop festival of Monterey. Back in Memphis, he thinks about new directions for his next disc. The rest is as legendary as it is tragic: he dies in a plane crash on December 10, 1967 at only 26… Even if only Otis knew what this “new album” would sound like, Dock Of The Bay Sessions tries to answer this question. Conceived with Roger Armstrong from the label Ace Records and with Jonathan Gould, the singer’s biographer, it doesn’t offer any new title (every track present here had been already released on a posthumous album or on a compilation), but rather an original track list. It shows a new Otis Redding. The one who impressed the European crowds with his atomic concerts and got himself a new American audience thanks to the Monterey episode. We hear all of this on the stripped-down funk of Hard To Handle, as can be felt Bob Dylan’s influence—whose music was loved by Redding—in Gone Again’s superb lyricism. His cover of the hit Amen from the Impressions also shows us that he was far from having abandoned his gospel roots. Otis Redding also doesn’t forget to make his audience dance like on the powerful Love Man carried by the striking drums of Al Jackson and a 100% Memphis fiery brass section. Finally, he reminds us that he can also be a God of ballads on I’ve Got Dreams To Remember, with its lyrics adapting a poem from his wife Zelma. As for the hit (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay which opens the ball, everyone knows it was his final song recorded before his death. Released in January 1968, the single reaches the first place in the charts on March 16, sells more than four million copies and will be the first posthumous album of an artist to reach this position… © Max Dembo/Qobuz

Soul - Released May 4, 2018 | Freaksville Music

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Soul - Released February 3, 2018 | Ace Records

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Soul - Released May 31, 2018 | Rhino Atlantic


Soul - Released September 20, 1977 | Universal Records


Soul - Released November 10, 2017 | Stax


Soul - Released August 18, 2017 | Rhino Atlantic


Soul - Released July 14, 2017 | WM Italy


Soul - Released July 1, 2017 | Soundstarrecords


Soul - Released May 19, 2017 | Rhino Atlantic

Released as part of Rhino's celebration of Stax's 60th anniversary, Stax Classics is one of many Otis Redding compilations that have been released over the years. At 12 tracks, it's not nearly as extensive as many of its companions and it certainly doesn't contain some major hits -- there's no "I Can't Turn You Loose," "Tramp," "Shake," "Hard to Handle," or "I've Got Dreams to Remember" -- but it does have the most familiar songs: "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," "These Arms of Mine," "Try a Little Tenderness," "Respect," "I've Been Loving You Too Long," and "Satisfaction." Maybe other collections provide a more thorough understanding of Otis, but this is a solid set that won't disappoint. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Soul - Released May 19, 2017 | Stax


Soul - Released April 15, 2017 | Fantasy Label


Soul - Released January 1, 2016 | Stax

Released in late 1970 on the heels of two chart-topping albums, Hot Buttered Soul (1969) and The Isaac Hayes Movement (also 1970), Isaac Hayes and the Bar-Kays retain their successful approach on those landmark albums for To Be Continued, another number one album. Again, the album features four songs that span far beyond traditional radio-friendly length, featuring important mood-establishing instrumental segments just as emotive and striking as Hayes' crooning. Nothing here is quite as perfect as "Walk on By," and the album feels a bit churned out, but To Be Continued no doubt has its share of highlights, the most notable being "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." The album's most epic moment opens with light strings and horns, vamping poetically for several minutes before Hayes even utters a breath; then, once the singer delivers the song's orchestral chorus, the album hits its sentimental peak -- Hayes elevating a common standard to heavenly heights once again. Elsewhere, "Our Day Will Come" features a nice concluding instrumental segment driven by a proto-hip-hop beat that proves just how ahead of his time Hayes was during his early-'70s cycle of Enterprise albums. It's tempting to slight this album when holding it up against Hayes' best albums from this same era, but a comparison such as this is unfair. Even if Ike isn't doing anything here that he didn't do on his two preceding albums -- Hot Buttered Soul, The Isaac Hayes Movement -- and isn't quite as daring as he is on his two successive albums -- Black Moses, Shaft -- To Be Continued still topples any Hayes album that came after 1971. It didn't top the R&B album chart for 11 weeks on accident -- this is quintessential early-'70s Isaac Hayes, and that alone makes it a classic soul album. ~ Jason Birchmeier

Soul - Released January 1, 2016 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)


Soul in the magazine