Every one of us has a favourite record label. I think for many of us at Ace towers, Stax is pretty much at the top of the pile. The independently owned Memphis label recorded soul for 15 years, both up-tempo and impassionately down. It scored hits in the USA and around the world and gave the world the iconic star quality of both Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes to name but two of its finest. The roll call beyond them is legendary and could take up a whole sleeve note but Booker T and the MGs, Johnnie Taylor, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Sam and Dave, the Bar Kays, William Bell and the Staple Singers all made the label known to fans of good music the world over. But we're record collectors, vinyl extremists and, maybe the odd anorak has an involvement as well, so what really gets us going are the obscurities, the ones that got away. Stax Of Funk 2 could be a tribute to that sort of record.
Our first BGP Stax Of Funk gathered up fine reviews and good sales as people discovered that it wasn't just one man operations out of Texas that released great funk. Volume 2 finds us resuming our search for more and what do you know we've come up trumps. Not only that but we have proved this time what a wide spectrum of sounds the funky part of the world encompasses. Most pleasing to my ears are a couple of tracks that are clearly influenced by the pop funk of the Honeycone and the Jackson 5 - the cuts by the Emotions and the Sweet Inspirations. But we cover virtually all points on the funk compass. We have blues funk from Albert King and Jimmy McCracklin. We have proto disco grooves from Sir Mack Rice, the blaxploitation exploits of the Bar Kays and the non blaxploitation film theme from the Staple Singers' Brand New Day written by Al Kooper. Oh and yes we have an unreleased and very funky Rufus Thomas number called Doin' The Side Saddle.
On top of this we have a whole load of hard core down and heavy funk. Lee Sain's Them Hot Pants, Shame On The Family Name by Calvin Scott, Bernie Hayes' mighty Cool Strut are all sure fire floor fillers whether you are a DJ or just playing a CD in your front room. And whilst we are at it we've got Reggie Milner's Soul Machine which shares its backing track with Tick Tock Baby by Quickest Way Out on the Karen label; that's a great record but Reggie is even better. So this is the Memphis Sound, only the funkiest Memphis sound you will ever hear.
By Dean Rudland