There is a terrific and charming new little box set out now featuring seven rare 45 RPM singles from the legendary Stax Records label. Yes you heard that right. Seven vinyl 45's featuring 14 "in demand grooves from both the famous and underrated artists who cut amazing music for the stacks group of labels... All highly sought after around the world by connoisseurs of both modern and northern soul."
The thing that's great about hearing a highly curated set like the The Stax Vinyl 7s Box is that you get to enjoy all these songs that should've been huge hits -- most were not -- in their native format: the 45 RPM vinyl record, single! That is, one song per side of a seven-inch record, for those of you out there not familiar with the format.
Don't worry, you also get a download, so in essence you also get an album listening experience as an added bonus. But really, the idea is to settle in and play the singles, one after another. Each song is a gem unto itself, so they warrant your attention -- a factor that really can't be overlooked when you are spinning 45s. I'll put it this way: you can't get deep into an online conversation when you are spinning singles... you can't cook dinner when you are spinning singles.... you can't write your album review while...
Oh.. well... ok... so yes, I am writing this as I am listening to these singles... but that is what I do!
But seriously folks, getting this music in this format really does justice to the artist because it forces you to zero in on key tracks that you might just gloss over if you listen to the whole set as a 14 song CD or playlist on your mobile device. And I'm not telling you to not listen to it as a playlist either -- I made a copy of the set to play while driving around (this is great driving music!). However, listening to the songs individually, single by single, side by side, I was more focused on the music on a track-by-track sense...
Standouts for me so far include the very timely and infectious "The Whole Damn World is Going Crazy" by John Gary Williams (who's album has been re-issued recently as well and well worth your checking it out... I reviewed it recently here on Audiophilereview). Margie Joseph is another underrated and less known singer I discovered recently and she is represented here with "One More Chance." I also like the scathing, slinky groove of Joni Wilson's "(Let Hurt Put You In The) Loser's Seat." I also love the hooky chorus of J.J. Barnes' "Sweet Sherry."
This is really good stuff and the 45 RPM singles sound just ducky. Yeah, ducky. I have no idea if these were made off of the absolute master tapes and all that goodly audiophile stuff, but the whole set was made in Germany so you know its going to be of as high quality as possible. And the fact that these rarities still even exist in the vaults in any form after all these years -- what with the inevitable shuffle of master tapes to numerous entities which have owned the Stax catalog over the years (currently driven by Concord Music Group), its wonderful to hear these tracks in any form.
The numbered limited addition set is available up on Amazon and from your favorite record retailers. This will make a great holiday gift for the Record Collector on your list.
Final note: while you are waiting to get your copy of The Stax Vinyl 7s Box, in the interim you can stream nearly three hours of other Stax-related music via the Tidal subscription based music service.