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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Soul > Back To Stax (Concert)

Back To Stax – Memphis Soul


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Concert: B-



Stax and Volt Records are two of the most important record labels of all time, with their classic, strong, restless, and uncompromised soul.  Taped back in 1990, Back To Stax – Memphis Soul does its best to bring back many of the original artists form the label the Columbia Records went out of its way to kill off and succeeded in doing so.


That is another story, but for this set of concert performances, could these artists bring their music back in full force?  Let’s look at each artists set, though please note that the menu on this title is awful and the sets are cut into each other:


Sam Moore:

1)     Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody

2)     You Don’t Know Like I Know

3)     Hold On, I’m Coming

4)     I Can’t Stand Up

5)     You Got Me Hummin’

6)     When Something Is Wrong With My Baby (with Carla Thomas)

7)     I Take What I Want

8)     I Thank You

9)     Soul Man

10)  Dock Of The Bay (with all musicians as the end song)


Without Dave Prater, who was killed in a plane crash as recently as 1988, it took guts for Sam Moore to come out on his own and do this set.  He gives it what he’s got, and even when it does not always work out, you have to admire the man for being ambitious enough to do such a full set.  That includes the duo’s big three hits (tracks 3, 8, & 9), plus other classics.  It is artistry and risks like this that made Sam, Dave and Stax legendary and he does not betray that here.


Phil Upchurch’s Love & Peace is just fine and is his only track here.


The Memphis Horns offer Philly Dog and Last Night, which are also not bad.


Booker T. & The M.G.s

1)     Hip Hug Her

2)     The Theme From Hang ‘Em High

3)     Time Is Tight

4)     Green Onions

5)     Summertime


They still have some of their sound and are fairly good, but what kills their set is the lack of energy, spark, joy and spontaneity that made their music classics in their time. 


Carla Thomas:

1)     Lovey Dovey

2)     Baby Let Me Be Good To You

3)     Tramp

4)     Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)

5)     B-A-B-Y


Miss Thomas takes a somewhat enthusiastic stab at songs she made famous, including going solo on Tramp, a duet she did with the late Otis Redding, who haunts more than one set here.  Though you can tell its her voice, the range and phrasing are somewhat diminished, holding back what could have been a strong showing, but she still looked good, complete with solid stage presence.  Thomas originally recorded for Satellite Records, then Atlantic, before ending up as the Queen of Stax.


Eddie Floyd:

1)     Knock On Wood

2)     Stand By Me

3)     Big Bird

4)     Raise Your Hand


Like Moore, Floyd also gives it his best, but his set is shorter and he seems to be struggling more than expected.


The full frame, color video image is from an old analog NTSC source and shows its age, especially in bleeding reds.  The sound is here in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surrounds, but is surprisingly compressed.  Someone should have left the audio alone instead of trying to “fix” it.  That does not help the presentation at all.  The only extras are a lyrics section and a few extras tracks, as the concert runs over 100 minutes and some extra instrumentals in a Memphis Soul section adds about 14 minutes.  Though mixed overall, Back To Stax – Memphis Soul has some moments and has the original artists together for one of the last times ever.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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