Soul Music

‘You can feel the energy’: Concerted efforts helped bring back the legend of Stax

‘You can feel the energy’: Concerted efforts helped bring back the legend of Stax

The Stax Museum is located at 926 East McLemore Avenue in Memphis — but it is not, in fact, house in the old building where so many legendary soul sides were once cut. That facility was actually torn down in 1989

‘Pretty raw, and pretty fresh’: On the first-take genius of Stax stars like Otis Redding

‘Pretty raw, and pretty fresh’: On the first-take genius of Stax stars like Otis Redding

The wonder, in listening to ageless sides from Stax Records stars like Otis Redding, was how often they came from one-take performances. Too, these songs were typically written just days, or even hours, beforehand.

One Track Mind: Earth Wind and Fire, “Can’t Hide Love” from Essential (2014)

One Track Mind: Earth Wind and Fire, “Can’t Hide Love” from Essential (2014)

This sound, in the dead of night, comes rushing out of my radio — a tornadic gust of horns. Then there follows a devastatingly cool lyric, amid a suave and spacious groove. But who is it? 45 seconds in, I finally peg “Can’t Hide Love” as the new Earth Wind and Fire song; I knew Maurice White’s “yow” anywhere.

‘He really made it sound class’: Tower of Power found its initial groove with assist from a Stax legend

‘He really made it sound class’: Tower of Power found its initial groove with assist from a Stax legend

Tower of Power burst out of the Oakland scene more than 40 years ago with Bump City, a gritty outburst of soul powered by the group’s silky smooth initial hit “You’re Still a Young Man.” They captured that Deep South vibe with the help of a Memphis master, Steve Cropper.

Irma Thomas – Full Time Woman: The Lost Cotillion Album (2014)

Irma Thomas – Full Time Woman: The Lost Cotillion Album (2014)

Not yet recognized as the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas had gone some time without a hit by the time she signed with Atlantic’s Cotillion subsidiary in the early 1970s. She’d last charted a pop hit in 1966, and had only gotten to No. 42 with her most recent R&B hit — back in 1968.

Books: I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom’s Highway (2014)

Books: I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom’s Highway (2014)

I’ll Take You There, Greg Kot’s new biography of Mavis Staples, explores the life and times of an ebullient contralto and former member of the Staple Singers who’s still belting out R&B and gospel at 74.

Something Else! sneak peek: Saun and Starr with the Dap-Kings, “Hot Shot” (2014)

Something Else! sneak peek: Saun and Starr with the Dap-Kings, “Hot Shot” (2014)

If you are a fan of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (and we are), then surely you’ve marvelled at the coiled brilliance of her smooth and sultry backup singers — dubbed the Dapettes (and we have). Here’s a chance to sample their forthcoming debut album, as Saun and Starr take a rare step out front.

‘The place would go nuts’: Steve Cropper played underrated role on signature early Stax hit

‘The place would go nuts’: Steve Cropper played underrated role on signature early Stax hit

No, there’s no guitar on the Mar-Keys’ Top 5 pop and R&B hit “Last Night.” But yes, Steve Cropper was part of that seminal 1961 Stax side — playing a completely different instrument the old-fashioned way.

‘That changed every member of that band’s life’: Steve Cropper to return to site of stirring Stax success

‘That changed every member of that band’s life’: Steve Cropper to return to site of stirring Stax success

When Steve Cropper performs another round of European dates with the Animals in the fall, he will be returning to the site of some of Stax Records’ biggest — and, for some, most surprising — successes in the late 1960s. An explosive revue featuring Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Carla Thomas and Eddie Floyd was backed by Booker T. andRead More

St. Paul and the Broken Bones – Half the City (2014)

St. Paul and the Broken Bones – Half the City (2014)

Close your eyes, and there’s no way you picture this guy singing these songs. The guy with the glasses, the suit, the flushed cheeks.