Despite its title, the massive, indispensable box set The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1964-1968 concentrated on A-sides, presenting only a fraction of the labels’ valuable flips. The box left many worthy B-sides overlooked in the CD era, but Ace Records’ Kent imprint has redressed that situation with the release of The Other Side of the Trax: Stax-Volt 45 RPM Rarities 1964-1968.
All but one of the 24 tracks on this new compilation are all making their official CD debuts – which is even more unbelievable considering the caliber of the artists represented here, including Carla Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Rufus Thomas, William Bell, and Eddie Floyd. In fact, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Booker T. and the M.G.’s are about the only major Stax/Volt headliners not represented on this collector-aimed, non-chronologically-sequenced set from the classic “blue” Stax era in which the company’s releases were distributed by Atlantic Records. Though all of these songs were relegated to single flips, all have the same brash southern-soul sound that define Stax’s finest recordings.
Stax queen Carla Thomas is heard on three cuts: Isaac Hayes and David Porter’s brassy “Separation,” her sweet, self-written ode to “A Boy Named Tom” and the happy, swinging “We’re Tight,” a duet with her father Rufus. The famous “Walking the Dog” man is heard himself on the 12-bar blues-style “Sho’ Gonna Mess Him Up,” and the diverse soul styles continue as Ivory Joe Hunter offers up the Latin-tinged “This Kind of Woman,” and William Bell is heard on first-class stomper “Don’t Stop Now” with its touch of the Motown Sound. His “Ain’t Got No Girl” (written by the all-star team of Bell, Hayes, Porter and Steve Cropper!) is more torrid. Eddie Floyd’s rollickingly upbeat “Hey Now” contrasts with the soulful blues of his “Under My Nose,” and Sir Mack Rice (of original “Mustang Sally” fame) taps into a high-octane dance vein for “I Gotta Have My Baby’s Love” penned by Rice and three of Booker T.’s M.G.’s: Steve Cropper, Al Jackson and Donald “Duck” Dunn!
There’s instrumental goodness, too, from The Mar-Keys (“Beach Bash”), Isaac Hayes, a.k.a. Sir Isaac and the Do-Dads (“The Big Dipper”) and Johnny Jenkins (the appropriately mellow “Bashful Guitar” with its slight echoes of the hit “Sleepwalk”).
Of the lesser-known artists, Barbara Brown leads her family group, Barbara and the Browns, on the smoldering ballad “You Belong to Her” and sultry “Please Be Honest with Me,” both produced by the great Chips Moman; Brown went on to record for Sounds of Memphis, an affiliation previously collected on disc by Ace. Other highlights include Dorothy Williams’ deliciously growled “Watchdog” and blue-eyed soul singer Johnny Daye’s urgent take on a Cropper co-write, “I Need Somebody.” Lynda Lyndell might be best-known for the original recording of “What a Man,” a smash hit for the duo Salt-N-Pepa decades later. Here she’s heard on the northern soul-style floor-filler “Here Am I,” written and produced by Dave Crawford whose credits are too numerous to mention here.
This top-notch package and essential companion to The Complete Stax/Volt Singles includes a 16-page color booklet with photographs and record label images as well as Tony Rounce’s copious liner notes. Duncan Cowell is responsible for the superb remastering.
Ace has also returned to the early, smoking sound of New Orleans by way of a more unexpected locale – Linden, New Jersey! – on Beef Ball Baby! The New Orleans R&B Sessions. This 24-track anthology of rare and previously unreleased Crescent City R&B hails from the archives of suburban Linden’s DeLuxe Records label. The label’s owners, David and Jules Braun, recorded in numerous locales including Los Angeles, North Carolina, and N’awlins. DeLuxe’s activity in the latter commenced in 1947 with the recordings of singer-pianist Paul Gayten who doubled as the label’s A&R man for R&B. DeLuxe’s biggest New Orleans artist, Roy Brown, first recorded under its aegis in July 1947; his recordings have been previously anthologized by Ace. Beef Ball Baby instead concentrates on the other artists Gayten signed to DeLuxe between 1947 and 1949, all of whom recorded at New Orleans’ J&M Studios.
Gayten’s own recording of “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Nothin’,” recorded circa November 1949, is featured on this set alongside cuts from Eddie Gorman, Smiling Lewis, Cousin Joe and His Sextette, Jewel King, Chubby “Hip Shakin'” Newsom and Her Hip Shakers, and Dave Bartholomew. Gorman appears seven times on this set, and his then-wife Chubby Newsom appears five times; in fact, her “Bed Room Blues” is answered by his rather simply-titled “Answer to Chubby’s Bedroom Blues.” He also provides the title track with the risqué “Beef Ball Blues.”
Overton Amos Lemons, a.k.a. Smiling Lewis, became more famous under the name of Smiley Lewis when he recorded for Dave Bartholomew (another DeLuxe signing) at Imperial in the 1950s. He gets four appearances here, playing guitar and accompanied by Papa John Joseph on bass and Tuts Washington on piano. Pleasant Joseph went through even more name changes than Lewis; Tony Rounce’s superb liner notes inform us that the singer went by the names of Smilin’ Joe, Pleasant Joe Joseph, Brother Joshua, and the name on which he’s billed for three sides here (including “Phoney Women Blues” and “It’s Dangerous to Be a Husband,” Cousin Joe.
Dave Bartholomew of “The Monkey” fame recorded two sessions for DeLuxe yielding nine tracks. Alas, only two have survived. Happily, “She’s Got Great Big Eyes (And Great Big Thighs)” and “Dave’s Boogie Woogie” have been rescued and restored for inclusion here. Jewel King (born Mary King) made her DeLuxe recordings at a split session with Chubby Newsom under Bartholomew’s supervision; she has three appearances here. Like Lewis, King went on to work with Bartholomew at Imperial.
Ace’s deluxe (no pun intended) release of this impossibly rare material comes with a 12-page booklet including Rounce’s detailed notes about each artist as well as a discography for all titles adapted from Les Fancourt and Bob McGrath’s The Blues Discography 1943-1970. Nick Robbins has vividly remastered these tracks for as optimal sound as is possible given the original acetates’ age and condition.
Both The Other Side of the Trax and Beef Ball Baby! The New Orleans R&B Sessions are available now at the links below.
- Changes – Johnnie Taylor (Stax 186)
- Separation – Carla Thomas (Stax 239)
- This Kind of Woman – Ivory Joe Hunter (Stax 155)
- Sho’ Gonna Mess Him Up – Rufus Thomas (Stax 173)
- You Belong to Her – Barbara and the Browns (Stax 150)
- Don’t Stop Now – William Bell (Stax 174)
- Beach Bash – The Mar-Keys (Stax 156)
- My Pride Won’t Let Me – Eddie Purrell (Volt 145)
- I Need Somebody – Johnny Daye (Stax 238)
- Uh-Oh (I’m in Love Again) – Eddie Jefferson (Stax 147)
- Watchdog – Dorothy Williams (Volt 118)
- You’ll Never Know How Much I Love You – Oscar Mack (Stax 152)
- Please Be Honest with Me – Barbara and the Browns (Stax 158)
- Ain’t Got No Girl – William Bell (Stax 237)
- A Boy Named Tom – Carla Thomas (Atlantic 2238)
- Sweet Thing – Gorgeous George (Stax 165)
- Hey Now – Eddie Floyd (Stax 223)
- The Big Dipper – Sir Isaac and the Do-Dads (Volt 129)
- We’re Tight – Rufus and Carla Thomas (Stax 176)
- I Gotta Have My Baby’s Love – Sir Mack Rice (Stax 220)
- Under My Nose – Eddie Floyd (Stax 233)
- Bashful Guitar – Johnny Jenkins (Volt 122)
- Here Am I – Lynda Lyndell (Volt 161)
- Strange Things (Happenin’ in My Heart) – Johnnie Taylor (Stax 235)
All tracks mono except Track 1. All tracks previously unissued on CD except Track 15.
- Answer to Chubby’s Bedroom Blues – Eddie Gorman (previously unreleased)
- Beef Ball Baby – Eddie Gorman (DeLuxe 3209)
- Don’t Worry ‘Bout Nothin’ – Paul Gayten and His Band feat. Eddie Gorman (DeLuxe 1200/3200)
- Hey Now – Eddie Gorman (previously unreleased)
- Telephone Blues – Eddie Gorman (DeLuxe 3209)
- Worrying About My Love – Eddie Gorman (previously unreleased)
- You Don’t Move Me No More – Eddie Gorman (previously unreleased)
- Swimming Blues – Smiling Lewis (likely DeLuxe 3108)
- Turn On Your Volume Baby – Smiling Lewis (DeLuxe 1099/3099)
- Here Comes Smiley – Smiling Lewis (DeLuxe 1099/3099)
- Love is Like a Gamble – Smiling Lewis (likely DeLuxe 3108)
- Phoney Woman Blues – Cousin Joe and His Sextette (DeLuxe 1065/3065)
- Little Woman Blues – Cousin Joe and His Sextette (DeLuxe 1067/3067)
- It’s Dangerous to Be a Husband – Cousin Joe and His Sextette (DeLuxe 1067/3067)
- Give Me a Clue Baby – Jewel King (previously unreleased)
- Go Now – Jewel King (previously unreleased)
- Passion Blues – Jewel King (previously unreleased)
- She’s Got Great Big Eyes (And Great Big Thighs) – Dave Bartholomew and His Sextette (DeLuxe 1104/3104)
- Dave’s Boogie Woogie – Dave Bartholomew and His Sextette (DeLuxe 1114/3114)
- Chubby’s Confession – Chubby “Hip Shakin'” Newsom and Her Hip Shakers (DeLuxe 3199/Miltone 3199)
- Back Bitin’ Woman – Chubby “Hip Shakin'” Newsom and Her Hip Shakers (DeLuxe 3204)
- Bed Room Blues – Chubby “Hip Shakin'” Newsom and Her Hip Shakers (DeLuxe 3204)
- Close to Train Time – Chubby “Hip Shakin'” Newsom and Her Hip Shakers (DeLuxe 3213)
- New Orleans Lover Man – Chubby “Hip Shakin'” Newsom and Her Hip Shakers (DeLuxe 3213)