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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Albums of the Year for 2016: The Sound of Stax

They say that there is no sound sweeter than the sound of Stax Soul and this year two wonderful albums were released on the classic label. Both made the list of my Albums of the Year 2016.

 Where I Live - William Bell

Produced by William Bell

Released 8th July 2016

Like Dion DiMucci, who we just posted, William Bell was also 77 years old this year and released his first album for decade and it was an absolute beauty.

This was his first album for Stax since 1974 and a return to the place he called home for many years starting in 1961.

His gift for crafting a good lyric was rewarded often when his Born Under A Bad Sign (co-written with Booker T. Jones) was covered by Cream, Etta James, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy and even old Homer Simpson! The song was originally a hit for Bluesman Albert King. Bell had recorded it himself many years ago (1969 actually) and on Where I Live he brings it back to life again.

He still sounds great as well and you'd never guess he was 77 years old at all!

MEmphis Rock and Soul - Melissa Etheridge


Produced by John Burk and Melissa Etheridge

Released 7th October 2016

The second album released on Stax that really impressed me this year comes from Melissa Etheridge and she also revives Born Under A Bad Sign (and Any Other Way & I Forgot To Be Your Lover - both also written by William Bell) as well as a whole bunch of Stax classics. Included among them is a new version with some added lyrics of the old Staple Singers classic Respect Yourself that used the original backing track recorded at Muscle Shoals by the in-house band affectionately known as The Swampers. There's some Otis Redding numbers including a magnificent version of I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop) and my favourite Otis song Dreams To Remember. Add to that Sam & Dave's Hold On I'm Coming, Memphis Train (Rufus Thomas), Who's Making Love (Johnnie Taylor), I'm A Lover (Staple Singers), Rock Me Baby (Otis Redding but originally done by B.B, King), and Wait a Minute (Babara Stephens)
Covers albums can sometimes be a bit tacky but from start to finish this one is a cracker.
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