STACKS OF STAX (PT. 2) (W/ GIVEAWAY)

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(In case you’re curious what “Part 1” is, I wrote that in 2009.)

Stax was the first music label I ever took an active interest in. This was probably back in 1992, when I decided to splurge with some credit I had at Amoeba and I picked up the the Complete Stax/Volt Singles, 1959-68, 9 CD box set. I can’t even recall why I was motivated to cop it except that 1) the cover looked cool and 2) I must have known a bare minimum about Stax/Volt to think “hey, maybe I’d learn something from this.”

That set stayed in heavy rotation for months and clearly, I wasn’t alone in that. One thing that I feel like isn’t acknowledged enough is that its release set off a spate of rap artists sampling from the Stax/Volt catalog. The examples are legion and maybe it’s a coincidence in a few cases but really, is it just convenient timing that this box set drops in ’91 and by ’93, the RZA is minting classics that loop up Wendy Rene and The Charmels (both of whose songs appear on that first volume)? I think not.

Those box sets – there are three of them in total, spanning 1959 through 1975 – were just the beginning. Over the years, the folks who own the Stax back catalog have done a steady job of mining it for different anthologies and just over the past few weeks, two new Stax-related box sets have hit the scene.

First, there’s the new Stax Vinyl 7s set. This is, if I have my count right, their fourth time reissuing singles within a 7″ box set (notably, they were early to the game, with their first set, called the Stax Box coming out in the mid-1980s!). The focus of this latest set, released to commemorate the label’s 60th anniversary, is somewhat surprising: compiler Richard Searling focused on Stax-related releases that gained a cult following in the UK’s Northern Soul and crossover scenes which is stark contrast with the label’s famed Memphis sound roots. It’s not an unwelcome way to explore the Stax catalog, just an unexpected one.

The challenge for Searling was to come up with a new way to repackage old treats and to that, he focused on tracks that have long been difficult – if not impossible – to get on 7″. Let’s cut to the chase: the best thing in this box, in this regard, is Lou Bond’s sublime “Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards” which has never been released on single. I wouldn’t say that it’s worth copping the box just for this single but it’s the first thing that leapt out to me. It’s kind of amazing, really, that no one’s bothered until now to put this out on 45; it’s so frickin’ amazing.

If the Lou Bond was “never before” status, then a slew of singles fall into “you could have bought these once but good luck finding them now” territory. One of them, the Montclairs’ “Hey You!” was previously re-released in 2001 but the original copies on the Stax subsidiary, Arch, easily sell for $1000+ and I can understand why: it’s an incredible crossover tune. I don’t think I’d drop a G on it but if you threw me a copy and asked for a few hundred, I wouldn’t hesitate a second to cop. It’s that good.

Some other gems include J.J. Barnes’ stomper “Sweet Sherry,” as well as the slow-burning “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” by Carla Thomas. As far as I know, neither song received a formal Stax/Volt release back when they were first recorded though both have also been subsequently reissued onto 45 in the years since.

We have a copy of the boxset to giveaway! To enter, 1) name the three songs used in this short snippet mix and then 2) post your answers here. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: SOUL SURVIVOR, A BIOGRAPHY OF AL GREEN

There’s a brand new biography of Al Green out there: Soul Survivor, written by Jimmy McDonough.

I’m excited for this one, least of all because Green is one of my favorite soul artists and unquestionably one of the most influential R&B artists of all time.

The book’s publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for our readers. (It’s over now, thanks for participating if you did!)

A QUANTIC DOUBLESHOT GIVEAWAY

Quantic tear

Late summer can be a slow time for new releases but Quantic has blessed us with not one but two new 7″s, each of which are well worth copping.

This week, he dropped his cumbia remake of “Doo Wop (That Thing)” with French-Chilean rapper filling in mic duties for L-Boogie. I heard he had this instrumental in the works back when he was on the podcast but I wasn’t sure he was going to put it out.

Quantic feat. Anita/Ana Tijoux: Doo Wop
On 7″ (Tru Thoughts, 2013)

Just a few weeks back, Quantic – teaming this time with British singer Alice Russell – dropped a cool ice blue, tear-shaped 7″ with “I’d Cry” and my favorite cut, the B-side “Here Again.” Both of these came out on last year’s Look Around the Corner CD but this is the first time they’ve come out on single.

Quantic feat. Alice Russell: Here Again
On 7″ (Tru Thoughts, 2013)

Tru Thoughts hooked us up with both singles. If you’d like a chance and winning both, answer this question: What Quantic Soul Orchestra remix flips a “Shanty Town”-soundalike loop for one of NY’s finest?

Think you know the answer? Email us, subject line “Quanticize Me!”

Contest over: congrats Dave H.! The answer was:

BLOWOUT COMB GIVEAWAY

Digable Planet Product Shot

Just another reminder that I’m getting old but Digable Planets’ sophomore album, Blowout Comb is almost 20 years old (damn!) and just ahead of its anniversary, Light in the Attic has commissioned a full vinyl reissue of the album. Included is a special embossed cover and 18″×24″ fold-out poster plus a liner notes booklet by Larry Mizell Jr. (They have some cool white and lavender special vinyl versions but the white are out and the lavender are for LITA subscribers exclusively).

LITA is generous enough to sponsor a copy of the album for us to giveaway. To enter, send an email to us, subject line “DP me!” and include the answers to these following questions: 

We’re done with the giveaway, thanks to all who entered!

1. Which of the album’s songs samples this Grant Green tune?

2. What is Butterfly’s new group called?

3. If one time is for your mind and three times is their Brooklyn dimes, what is two times for?

Pleasure…

LONG LIVE BOOGALOO + GIVEAWAY

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Pete Rodriguez: Pete’s Boogaloo
Herbie Oliveri and the Latin Blues Band: We Belong Together
Bobby Quesada and His Band: Ritmo Moderno
All from Long Live Boogaloo (Secret Stash, 2012)

It’s been a while since there’s been new boogaloo anthology/comp to hit the market and the folks at Secret Stash didn’t half-step in assembling their new Long Live Boogaloo. They got legendary Latin promoter/designer Izzy Sanabria to draw the cover and write the liner notes, adding a personal touch from a boogaloo insider. Moreover, while previous anthologies tended to serve as primers, this one digs deeper into the Latin soul catalog to offer up prime selections that still drift off the beaten path.

For example, Pete Rodriguez, one of the key architects of the boogaloo sound, is represented here but it’s via his slept-on, early effort, “Pete’s Boogaloo” rather than the more obvious “I Like It Like That” or “Oh That’s Nice.”1 Likewise, Ray Barretto gets one song here, but instead of anything off of Acid, they go with “Right On” (strangely mis-titled here as “Pretty Mama”), arguably his funkiest Latin soul cut ever, from 1972’s Power.

I enjoyed seeing Decca represented heavy here. No other non-Latin label did as much to be a part of the boogaloo scene as Decca and that’s largely owed to the presence of Richard Marin, brother of famed Latin soul singer/songwriter/producer Bobby Marin. Richard was absolutely key behind some of the great Decca Latin releases era, represented here by songs like Manny Corchado’s killer instrumental “Chicken and Booze” and Ozzie Torrens’s jazzy “Mia’s Boogaloo.” 2

One of my favorite labels, Speed, gets two tracks on here, including one of their uber-rare, 7″ only releases: Herbie Oliveri and the Latin Blues Band’s “We Belong Together,” and likewise, I was happy to see Bobby Quesada’s oft-overlooked Fania album get a pair of cuts. However, if there’s one unofficial center of the album, it’s undoubtedly Louie Ramirez, the gifted arranger/producer who, along with Bobby Marin, made up the most vital two-man team in Latin soul history. While Ramirez is overtly credited on two of his own songs here, you can find his imprint on far more of the album.

Overall you get 22 tracks, almost all of them of exemplary quality. Great to see that people are still going hard at giving boogaloo shine. To hear other tracks off the comp, visit the Secret Stash website. And don’t forget about Mathew Warren’s upcoming documentary on the boogaloo: We LIke It Like That.


Peep: Secret Stash was generous enough to sponsor a giveaway of Long Live Boogaloo. To enter, answer these following questions:

1) Which Alegre album claims to introduce the “bugalu” as a new dance style?
2) Name the two main co-founders of Speed Records.
3) What important proto-boogaloo song was built around a whistle?

Send your answers here, attn: “long live boogaloo contest”. A winner will be selected at random from those with all three questions answered correctly.

  1. For my money, “Pete’s Boogaloo” is as good as anything Rodriguez ever did; surprises me it hasn’t gotten more shine. I’m guessing it’s partially because, unlike his later boogaloos, this one is still in Spanish rather than English.
  2. If I could nitpick, while they also include two songs from Jimmy Zamot’s Decca release, The Latin Soul of Johnny Zamot, that’s probably the most common of Decca’s boogaloo LPs and I wish they had used something off of Zamot’s Boogaloo Frog or Tell It Like It Is, both of which receive less shine.

GIVEAWAY: LOVE APPLE

The only downside to Numero Group is that they put out too much damn music!1 Just as I’m trying to catch up with the excellence that was their Boddie set, I’m now trying to stay atop of their upcoming Lou Ragland and Red, Black and Green Productions releases respectively and their dropping limited edition vinyl exclusives by gospel singer Shirley Ann Lee and the one I’m most jazzed about: this Boddie-vault rescue by the girl group, Love Apple.

Love Apple: What Will Tomorrow Bring?
From S/T (Numero Group, 2012)

The sound quality isn’t the best but that’s because this was a rehearsal tape recorded by Lou Ragland in 1978 (but sounding more like ’68) that was never saw the proverbial light of day.

And good god, this is awesome.

I. Love. This. Sh–.

So simple and good. It’s only six songs but it’s all quality, especially the ballads which, like the song above, just slay me. Obviously, it’s nice to imagine what this might have sounded like as a finished, studio product but the rawness of this would have been likely lost in the process too. Either way, what you have here can be well appreciated.

Numero is generous enough to sponsor a giveaway for one vinyl copy. You know the deal: email us, subject line “Love Apple”. I’ll pick a winner at random by the end of the week.
(Congrats Samuel B.!)
And if you just want to go out and get it, don’t wait too long.

  1. This is not a real complaint. Well, mostly it’s not.

GIVEAWAY: DARLING DEARS 7″


The Darling Dears: And I Love You
From 7″ (Flower City/Culture of Sound, 1972/2012)

I first heard about the Darling Dears 7″ on Soulstrut in 2010 and Matthew Africa recently did a nice write-up on his blog where he describes the sound of the group as “airy female harmonies set against a wall of sludgy funk and heavy drums,” which just about sums it up. A really awesome single and expensively obscure out the wazoo.

By sheer coincidence, two different labels have reissued it, basically at the same time, both of which followed perfectly legit channels, just through different parties connected to the release.1 The good folks at Culture of Soul are sponsoring this giveaway for a copy of the 7″ (go here to pre-order and/or here the flipside).

To enter, send us an email, subject line “Darling Dears giveaway”. Thanks!

Update: Here’s a good background article on the group. (Thanks: Matt C.)

  1. I’m a little torn here since I got my promo copy from Orivious but Culture of Sound is sponsoring the giveaway.

WHEEDLE’S GROOVE GIVEAWAY

A very very cool new package from the folks at Light in the Attic: they’ve recently turned their famous Seattle soul/funk anthology, Wheedle’s Groove into a 45s boxset which features 10 7″s highlighting songs/artists from the original comp. It’s a sick package, including replicated artwork for the 7″s which is always a nice touch, plus a bonus EP of Robbie Hill’s Family Affair’s unreleased sessions.

Unfortunately, they can’t offer the boxset for a giveaway since it’s a limited edition item, BUT Light in the Attic will giveaway an original copy of anthology on CD.

Also, don’t sleep on another recent LITA release: Kool and Together’s self-titled anthology:

Where Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys left off is exactly the spot where Kool and Together was born. For the Sanders brothers, the screams of Psychedelic Rock met with Motown’s funky Soul at a crossroads called Black Rock.

To enter, send us an email, titled “Wheelde’s Giveaway”. We’ll pick a winner at random next week.

Meanwhile, congrats to the winner of our last giveaway, J.W. (whose favorite cover song is Elliot Smith’s over of Big Star’s “13.”

Notable fact: the only cover to get more than two mentions was this (which was noted by four different people!):

Agreed – awesome cover.