Stax Records, the classic soul label that has been reactivated this year by Concord Music Group on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, has announced plans to offer gems from its catalog for digital download exclusively through iTunes in North America for 90 days. The music will be offered on other digital retail sites after the initial 90-day period.
Each of the initial 10 Short Stax collections will include three tracks: two top hits plus a third hard to find gem from the Stax vault. The 10 key Stax artists are: Booker T & the MGs, The Dramatics, The Emotions, Eddie Floyd, Isaac Hayes, Albert King, the Soul Children, the Staple Singers, Johnnie Taylor, Carla Thomas and Rufus Thomas. Phase two of the Short Stax series will offer ten more EPs July.
Stax will offer five full albums never before released on CD to be made available as online albums exclusively. The albums include:
• Eddie Floyd – You’ve Got To Have Eddie: A long-lost 1969 classic from the “Knock On Wood” man includes the single “Don’t Tell Your Mama” along with covers of Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary.”
• David Porter – Gritty, Groovin’ & Getting’ It: The Porter half of the venerated Hayes-Porter songwriting and production team. This 1970 release includes the U.K. hit “One Part – Two Parts” as well as covers of Stevie Wonder and the Temptations.
• Freddie Robinson – At the Drive-In: This great electric soul/blues album spotlights an overlooked Stax artist best known for his early ‘70s guitar work with John Mayall circa Jazz/Blues Fusion.
• Lou Bond – Lou Bond: A pure soul gem from 1974 . . . Curtis Mayfield meets Tim Buckley as a listen to “To The Establishment” will reveal.
• The Sons of Truth – A Message From the Ghetto: From 1972, a funky soul outfit that delivers a memorable cover of James Brown’s “I Feel Good” and more.
The digital albums will list for $9.99 apiece. A second round of digital exclusive reissues goes live on July 24.
The Stax sound defined such classic hits as “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” “Respect Yourself,” “Hold On I’m Comin’,” “Mr. Big Stuff,” “Soul Man,” “Green Onions,” “Knock on Wood” and “I’ll Take You There.”
This year, on Stax’s 50th anniversary, Concord Music Group announced the relaunch of Stax Records as the creative home for present-day soul stars (Angie Stone, Soulive, Lalah Hathaway, N’Dambi and Leon Ware), alongside heritage artists such as Isaac Hayes, who has now returned to the label home of his hits. Throughout the year Stax is participating in a reissue campaign that includes the just released Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration 2 CD deluxe box, new individual artist “Best Of” CDs, and many rare or currently unavailable Stax albums from such artists as Carla Thomas, the Staples Singers, Booker T and the MGs, Isaac Hayes and much more.
Stax has also announced two live shows featuring many of its classic artists: a benefit for the Stax Museum of American Soul Music to take place on Friday, June 22 at Memphis’ Orpheum Theater, and a Hollywood Bowl show to take place Wednesday, July 18. In addition, a documentary film, Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, a “Great Performances” special from Thirteen/WNET New York, will have its broadcast premiere on Wednesday, August 1 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).