Back To Stax – Memphis Soul
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
1) Said I
Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody
Don’t Know Like I Know
3) Hold On,
4) I Can’t
5) You Got
Something Is Wrong With My Baby (with Carla Thomas)
7) I Take
What I Want
8) I Thank
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
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
Theme From Hang ‘Em High
3) Time Is
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.
2) Baby Let
Me Be Good To You
4) Gee Whiz
(Look At His Eyes)
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.
1) Knock On
Stand By Me
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