STACKS OF STAX

Little Milton: Packed Up and Took My Mind
From Stax: The Soul of Hip-Hop (Stax, 2009)

Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that Stax Records has been finding new ways to package their back catalog. For example, there’s the Soulsville Sings Hitsville comp as well as the Stax Does the Beatles album.

The most recent offering takes a page from Blue Note’s older, successful Break Beats series by combing through the Stax catalog and pulling out 14 songs that have found second life as hip-hop sample sources. (The funny thing is, I always thought this was the original Stax sample compilation.)

To be candid, this particular comp feels like it’s arriving about 10 years late, especially since sampling Stax really hit its zenith in the ’90s, but you can’t fault the selections.

1. 24-CARAT BLACK – “Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth”
2. THE EMOTIONS – “Blind Alley”
3. BOOKER T. & THE MGs – “Melting Pot”
4. THE BAR-KAYS – “Humpin’”
5. THE DRAMATICS – “Get Up and Get Down”
6. ISAAC HAYES – “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic”
7. ISAAC HAYES – “Hung Up On My Baby”
8. DAVID PORTER – “I’m Afraid the Masquerade Is Over”
9. WENDY RENE – “After the Laughter (Comes Tears)”
10. CHARMELS – “As Long As I’ve Got You”
11. THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS – “Why Marry”
12. RUFUS THOMAS – “Do the Funky Penguin (Part 1)”
13. LITTLE MILTON – “Packed Up and Took My Mind”
14. WILLIAM BELL – “I Forgot To Be Your Lover”

What I like here is how these choices reflect the vast diversity of Stax/Volt in terms of the styles and artists they embraced in their heyday. It’s certainly filled with some personal favorites, including “Blind Alley” and “As Long As I’ve Got You” and, of course, “I Forgot to Be Your Lover. I picked out the Little Milton song because it’s was one of the few tracks on here that I hadn’t heard before, but it had such a classic Memphis feel to it (could have totally been a Syl Johnson song!). Seems only right that Ghostface would have used it – the Wu + Stax = winning combo every time.

As a bonus, I pulled out one song that could certainly qualify for a Vol. 2 – Ernie Hines’ “Our Generation” which originally came out on We Produce, a Stax subsidiary that was also home to the Temprees.

Ernie Hines: Our Generation
From Electrified (We Produce, 1973)

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