This fall, Craft Recordings will continue its celebration of the rich and varied sounds of Stax Records with a further batch of reissues in the Soul Explosion series. The year-long campaign puts a spotlight on Stax's years as an independent label following their split from Atlantic fifty years ago. During that period, the label released a staggering 27 albums and 30 singles in just a handful of months. With a host of hits and best-selling albums from evergreen acts and new signers-on alike, Stax proved its strength as one of the top soul labels.
This Friday, November 1, five titles will hit shelves in deluxe, 180-gram editions - The Bar-Kays' Gotta Groove, Melting Pot from Booker T. & The M.G.'s, Delaney & Bonnie's Home, David Porter's Victim of the Joke?...An Opera, and Johnnie Taylor's Who's Making Love. Each title has been cut from its original analog master tapes by Jeff Powell at Take Out Vinyl and manufactured at Memphis Record Pressing.
Originally released in 1969, The Bar-Kays' Gotta Groove was a triumphant comeback for a band whose recent past was marked by tragedy. The Bar-Kays were formed in 1966 and enjoyed success as a backing band for Stax sessions before landing a gig as Otis Redding's full-time backup group. In 1968, four of their members and Redding were killed in a plane crash, tragically stalling what had been a momentous few years. Surviving members Ben Cauley and James Alexander reformed the band and found work with the likes of Isaac Hayes before releasing Gotta Groove. With the psychedelic soul-funk gems like "Don't Stop Dancing (To the Music)," the jazz-tinged Marvin Gaye cover "If This World Were Mine," and instrumental renditions of The Beatles' "Yesterday" and "Hey Jude," the album remains a celebration of life and vitality. Now, Gotta Groove returns to vinyl for the first time in 40 years.
Another Stax house band that was hard at work during the label's independent years was Booker T. & The M.G.'s. Their 1971 effort, Melting Pot, was the final M.G.'s album to feature the classic lineup of Booker T. Jones on keyboards, Steve Cropper on guitar, Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass, and Al Jackson Jr. on drums. The four-piece's jams have remained in high-demand; in fact, the title track has been sampled by the likes of Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Big Daddy Kane, and Kenny Dope. Now the celebrated album will be reissued for the first time on vinyl as part of the Soul Explosion series.
On the same day, Delaney & Bonnie's debut LP Home will be reissued. Down-home soul was in the pair's roots: Delaney had collaborated with fellow blue-eyed soulster Leon Russell while Bonnie had performed with Albert King. For their first record, they were backed by a staggering ensemble that included Booker T. & The M.G.'s, members of The Bar-Kays, plus Isaac Hayes, Leon Russell, Carl Radle, and William Bell. Home caught the attention of George Harrison and Eric Clapton, who would join on alongside Rita Coolidge, Dave Mason, and many more to form Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. Fifty years on, their original soul songs (not to mention the Cropper tunes and Isaac Hayes/David Porter co-writes) are still fresh and powerful. While the album has seen reissue on CD before, Craft's Soul Explosion edition will mark a rare vinyl reissue of the duo's debut.
Next up is David Porter's Victim of the Joke?...An Opera. The 1971 release was the third solo album by the gifted singer, producer, and songwriter (among his 200 songwriting credits are Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Comin'" and Carla Thomas' "B-A-B-Y"). The ambitious album pairs pop-soul gems, infectious covers and dialogue pieces to relate the arc of a love affair. Among the highlights are a searing cover of The Beatles' "Help!" and a rendition of "(I'm Afraid) The Masquerade is Over." Porter's version of the standard has been sampled over 35 times by some of the most popular hip-hop, rap, and R&B artists of recent times, including The Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan, and Mary J. Blige. Now his timeless version and all the other gems on Victim of the Joke? return to vinyl!
The final title in this batch of Soul Explosion reissues is Johnnie Taylor's Who's Making Love. The title track was Stax' first smash hit after losing their back catalogue to Atlantic. The song peaked at No. 5 on the Pop chart and helped to recoup losses and boost the label's profile, paving the way for their success as an independent entity. The album arrived a few months after the single and featured even more irresistible soul. Among its tracks are contributions from Isaac Hayes, David Porter, Booker T., and Bettye Crutcher. From the melancholic "Can't Trust Your Neighbor," the hopeful "Hold on This Time," and the single "Take Care of Your Homework," there's no shortage of great material.
In addition to the Soul Explosion series, Stax will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence with a new original content series that spotlights the label's influence on Memphis and on music. Each episode features a different artist and specific vinyl reissue title. More details are on the way and we'll be sure to fill you in about the exciting series!
THE BAR-KAYS - GOTTA GROOVE (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
- Don't Stop Dancing (To The Music) (Part I)
- If This World Were Mine
- In The Hole
- Funky Thang
- Jiving Round
- Grab This Thing
- Don't Stop Dancing (To The Music) (Part II)
- Street Walker
- Hey Jude
BOOKER T. & THE M.G.'s - MELTING POT (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
- Melting Pot
- Back Home
- Chicken Pox
- Kinda Easy Like
- Hi Ride
- L.A. Jazz Song
- Sunny Monday
DAVID PORTER - VICTIM OF THE JOKE?...AN OPERA (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
- If I Give It Up, I Want It Back
- When You Have To Sneak
- (I'm Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over
- Storm In The Summertime
- Pretty Inside
- Airplane Ticket, Bus Ride, Can I Borrow Your Car?
- Piece Of My Heart
JOHNNIE TAYLOR - WHO'S MAKING LOVE (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
- Who's Making Love
- I'm Not The Same Person
- Hold On This Time
- Woman Across The River
- Can't Trust Your Neighbor
- Take Care Of Your Homework
- I'm Trying
- Poor Make Believer
- Payback Hurts
- Mr. Nobody Is Somebody Now
- I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water
DELANEY & BONNIE - HOME (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
- It's Been A Long Time Coming
- A Right Now Love
- We Can Love
- My Baby Specializes
- Everybody Loves A Winner
- Things Get Better
- Just Plain Beautiful
- Hard To Say Goodbye
- Pour Your Love On Me
- Piece Of My Heart
Beware of that Bar-Kays lp. To the eye the vinyl looks ok but the pressing is really bad. Pops and crackles all over. Tried five copies and they're all awful. Mailed Craft but no reaction.
Not ever buying Craft again unleass I have no other option.