Soul - Released November 6, 2015 | Rhino Atlantic


Soul - Released June 30, 2017 | Rhino Atlantic

At nine discs and 244 tracks, The Complete Stax-Volt Singles: 1959-1968 is far too exhaustive for casual fans, but that's not who the set is designed for -- it's made for the collector. Featuring every A-side the label released during those nine years, as well as several B-sides, the set is a definitive portrait of gritty, deep Southern soul. Many of the genre's major names -- Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Booker T. & the MG's, William Bell, Rufus Thomas, the Bar-Kays, Albert King -- plus many terrific one-shot wonders are showcased in terrific sound and augmented with an in-depth booklet. For any serious soul or rock collector, it's an essential set, since Stax-Volt was not only a musically revolutionary label, its roster was deep with talent, which means much of the music on this collection is first-rate. But if you only want the hits, you'll be better off with a smaller collection, since too much of this set will sound too similar, and sorting through the nine discs will be a monumental task if you only want to hear Otis, Rufus, Carla, and Sam & Dave. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Soul - Released June 1, 2015 | Rhino Atlantic


Soul - Released February 3, 2014 | Rhino Atlantic


Soul - Released February 3, 2013 | Rhino Atlantic

Although his recording career only lasted five years, from 1962 through 1967 (seven studio albums in all), with his biggest hits coming in the last two years of that time, and his only number one, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," after his death, Otis Redding is still widely considered the greatest performer of the classic soul era, a designation he undoubtedly deserves. A dynamic performer and a more than competent songwriter ("Dock of the Bay," for instance, is a Redding original), he brought the energy and directness of gospel into the secular world with a fervor and passion that made his songs, and particularly his live versions of them, into gritty sermons on the joy, loss, pain, and yearning that attends being in love. It helped, too, that his backing outfit on most of his tracks was the great Stax Records house band the MG's, who knew how to punch in and stomp it and also when to lay back in a quiet storm behind him, and the band and Redding together were an unstoppable force. There have been plenty of Redding compilations over the years, with this one, The King of Soul, being yet another one, but it is distinctive for its breadth, tracking the arc of Redding's career through 92 tracks arranged chronologically over four discs, and because it also, particularly when covering the early years, includes mono mixes, which often carried more tightly focused punch than the stereo ones. Appearing during the 50th anniversary year of the release of Redding's debut album, Pain in My Heart, this set tells the story of the King of Soul as well as any other compilation out there. Everything essential is here, and with Otis Redding, it's pretty much all essential. He was that kind of artist. ~ Steve Leggett

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 15, 2017 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions 4F de Télérama

Soul - Released October 30, 2015 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Soul Manifesto is a fancy but accurate title for what is essentially another installment in Rhino's Original Album Series, where all the individual albums are presented as mini-LPs in paper sleeves, slid into a small box, and marketed at a low price. In this case, this rounds up the 12 albums that form the core of the Otis Redding discography: the five studio albums he released between 1964 and 1967 (Pain in My Heart, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, The Soul Album, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul, the Carla Thomas duet album King & Queen), the live albums Live in Europe and In Person at the Whisky a Go Go, and the four posthumous studio LPs released between 1968 and 1970 (The Dock of the Bay, The Immortal Otis Redding, Love Man, Tell the Truth). While other rarities were dug up years later -- two noteworthy sets are 1992's Remember Me and the following year's box set Otis! The Definitive Otis Redding -- this has all the important music Otis made, all delivered in a handy and affordable little box. If you didn't own this seminal music already, this is a great way to get it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Soul - Released October 30, 2007 | Rhino Atlantic


Soul - Released November 7, 2014 | Columbia - Legacy

"This box is staggeringly comprehensive....TAKE A LOOK provides ample evidence that Columbia did indeed sign an artist who was destined for greatness."

Soul - Released July 30, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy


Soul - Released November 10, 2017 | Stax


Soul - Released May 31, 2018 | Rhino Atlantic


Soul - Released April 22, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

This double pack, limited to 2500 copies, reissues Long John Baldry's long out of print -- at least in the States -- Warner Brothers albums from the early '70s, adding a handful of additional tracks (alternate versions, radio spots, unreleased songs) to each. Boogie Woogie: The Warner Bros. Recordings includes 1971's It Ain't Easy and 1972's Everything Stops for Tea, which were co-produced by Elton John and Rod Stewart -- neither whom had attained major popularity yet -- who worked on one album side per disc. Although Sid Griffin's generally insightful liner notes that describe these releases as "some of the best British blues rock to grace black vinyl" may be overstating their importance, there is a fair amount of genuinely solid music here. For the most part, Baldry covered American blues in his uniquely ornate British style, which not surprisingly didn't resonate with U.S. audiences the way say, the Rolling Stones did. His was a more studied albeit eclectic approach, dipping into New Orleans pop ("Iko Iko"), U.K. music hall ("Everything Stops for Tea"), traditional folk ("Mother Ain't Dead" with Rod Stewart on vocals and banjo!) and gospel along with some memorable Willie Dixon tunes ("Seventh Son," "I'm Ready," "You Can't Judge a Book"). It Ain't Easy's first five selections feature members of what would later be Rod Stewart's Every Picture Tells a Story band backing up Baldry, and is considered a stepping stone to that classic recording. Baldry isn't the most magnetic performer, but his gruff voice has a certain charm, and even if the material is a bit erratic, he is obviously enjoying himself. A boisterous Baldry tears into the slow blues "Bring My Baby Back to Me" from 1972's Mar-Y-Sol Festival as one of disc two's extras. He also goes country, rather convincingly, for a lovely cover of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." The only clear classic here is the rollicking "Don't Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll," a terrific rocking underground hit that was Baldry's only stab on American radio. While that may not be worth the rather inflated price of this limited-edition reissue, these albums are both intermittently enjoyable and Rhino has done its usual classy job repackaging them with remastered sound and rare pictures. ~ Hal Horowitz

Soul - Released April 25, 1995 | UNI - MOTOWN


Soul - Released January 1, 1994 | CAPITOL CATALOG MKT (C92)


Soul - Released December 15, 2014 | UNI - MOTOWN


Soul - Released November 20, 2001 | UNI - MOTOWN


Soul - Released November 5, 2013 | Rhino Atlantic

The 58-track Never My Love: The Anthology, very different from the 61-track French and Japanese release Someday We'll All Be Free (2010), appeals slightly more to fanatics than it does newcomers. Disc one covers Donny Hathaway's singles and albums highlights, from 1969 and 1972 A-sides recorded with June Conquest through 1978's "You Were Meant for Me." There's a lot of familiar ground, all of it representative, but many selections differ from the album counterparts, including the two-part 7" version of "The Ghetto," the promo edit of "Thank You Master (For My Soul)," and single edits of "Giving Up," "A Song for You," and "Come Little Children." The second disc consists of unreleased studio recordings, none of which overlaps with the material unearthed on Someday We'll All Be Free. Unfortunately, that means Hathaway's cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" isn't present, but there are two slices of hard and heavy soul that date from the late '60s, a mighty interpretation of "Never My Love" (a platinum hit for the Association), the gorgeously bittersweet "Memory of Our Love," and a fascinating 20-minute concerto. Other tracks, not quite aimless but sensibly left in the archive, help fans fill in the gaps of the mid- to late-'70s period when Hathaway's creativity was severely impaired. Disc three, all newly issued as well, is like an alternate, not quite as hot edition of Live. It draws from the eight sets Hathaway performed during three October 1971 nights at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village. None of it was included on any of the previous Hathaway live albums, yet they're no mere scraps, highlighted by similarly sprawling trips through "Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything)" and "The Ghetto" that involve tremendous interplay between Hathaway and his formidable band. Finally, the last quarter of the anthology contains all of the 1972 classic Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, as well as three additional Roberta/Donny duets produced by giants James Mtume and Reggie Lucas: the number two Hot 100 hit "The Closer I Get to You," "You Are My Heaven," and the undervalued boogie gem "Back Together Again." Charles Waring's lengthy essay is an illuminating and deeply emotional read, with quotes from those who worked closest with Hathaway, including Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin, and Flack. The CD edition is shaped like a DVD set, fold-out style, with sharp design. It's a long overdue treat for anyone interested in a genius whose talents as a singer, keyboard player, songwriter, arranger, and producer gave the world a bounty of life-affirming and inspiring music. Hopefully an enterprising label has the resources to endure the licensing nightmares required to release a compilation that showcases Hathaway's work for artists like the Unifics, the Impressions, Curtis Mayfield, Phil Upchurch, Roberta Flack, Jerry Butler, and Willie Nelson. Paired with this, we'd get the full scope of the man's work. ~ Andy Kellman


Soul in the magazine