Light in the Attic created this 7″ reissue set for Record Store Day and it’s a very cool way to 1) pay tribute to one of the greatest labels in soul history and 2) break true fanatics off with 10 reissued 7″ singles, ranging from some of their better know hits (“BLind Alley”) to lesser known gems (“Them Hot Pants”). Killer packaging and a really impressive set of liner notes that features testimonials from Jim Stewart, Al Bell and others).1 I recently rapped with Light in the Attic’s Matt Sullivan about the story behind this set:
The Stax catalog is one of the most well-compiled in the history of soul music; why choose it for the focus of a 7″ box set?
No question. Surprisingly though, there’s never been a proper 45s box of the label. In 2010, we spent a month in Memphis and fell in love with the city and the people at Stax. It was also an excuse to once again work with our favorite writer on the planet, Memphis native Andria Lisle.
Given how massive that catalog is too, how did you choose the singles that would finally go in?
It wasn’t easy and felt incredibly daunting trying to limit it to ten 45s. We chose to focus on the later half of Stax and singles that we’re more off the radar. Musician and KEXP DJ Johnny Horn helped narrow it down, picking many of his choice favorites. Patrick Montier at the Stax fan site kindly helped out as well.
Was there every a temptation to deviate from the original A/B-sides? In other words, you could have paired a different set of Emotions songs rather than reproduce the original one.
We must’ve went back and forth on that idea for months, actually well over a year. In the end, deviating from the original 45s felt a little like ‘we’re not worthy.’ Maybe we’re purists and couldn’t stomach altering the past.
Excellent liner notes and testimonials; was it difficult to get folks like Bell and Rauls to contribute?
That was pretty much all Andria. She’s close with many of the Stax alum (and the best damn tour guide in Memphis), having written about the label over the years. As for Phillip Rauls, I reached out to Phillip, who was the Promotions Manager for Stax starting in ’68 till the bankruptcy. He runs a fantastic blog where he shares memories and photos from his days in the business. Initially I contacted Phillip for permission to use his photos for the booklet, but once I spoke with him on the phone I realized that he had great stories to share, so Andria interviewed him for a separate section about the label’s ambition plan to release 27 albums and 30 singles in a 12 month period.
Why a 7″ set? Who do you see as the prime audience for this set?
We love 45s. The audience? Collectors, DJs, indie rock kids, old timers…
- Full disclosure: I was asked to submit a mini-testimonial on the Melvin Van Peebles 7″ in the set. ↩