This 10-disc set covers the final three years of Stax singles, a period when the iconic Memphis-based label was under new management and trying to broaden and expand too many directions at once, a disastrous move that led to financial ruin. By December ’75, Stax was in involuntary bankruptcy and out of business soon after.
The 213 chronologically arranged tracks, the A-sides of single releases during this period, reflect that wider focus with the trademark ’60s Stax sound largely but not completely gone.
Bluesmen account for some of the strongest material. Albert King and Little Milton offer their usual pungent guitar and vocal work on “I’ll Play The Blues For You” and “Walking The Back Streets And Crying,” respectively. Little Sonny offers an earthy “Goin’ Down Slow” and “My Woman Is Good To Me.”
The Staple Singers singles were also guitar-heavy. “Sugarcane” from 1973 reveals a reconfigured MG’s, minus Booker T. and Steve Cropper, who’d walked away from Stax by then. Guitarist Bobby Manuel replaced Cropper; Carson Whitsett handled organ.
In general, regardless of the artist, most of the guitar and bass work reflects the early to mid ’70s. Like the previous two volumes, this one is beautifully researched and annotated.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s June ’15 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.