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One great run

Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration
Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration
By various artists

Stax / Fantasy / Concord: 2007

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This review first appeared in Turbula in April 2007.

Challenging Motown for R&B supremacy throughout much of the 1960s and early '70s, the Stax label was exponentially more influential than Motown ever was. The Memphis-based studio and label only lasted for 18 years, from 1957 to '75, but as a new two-CD 50th anniversary box set illustrates, that's about as good a run as any small indie outfit ever had. From Booker T. And the MGs to Otis Redding, Sam & Dave to Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas to the Staple Singers, Stax helped redefine popular black music while also grabbing the white kids' ears.

Previous Stax box sets have been more complete, but the 50 songs here are a more than ample (and much more affordable) selection of highlights and greatest hits. "(Sittin' On) The Dock of The Bay," "Green Onions," "I'll Take You There," "Knock on Wood," "Theme From Shaft," "Mr. Big Stuff," "Hold On I'm Comin'" – it's a dance party disc as much as an informative, historic collectible.

The liner notes (taken from the previous 4-CD "The Stax Story") are comprehensive, with tons of photos, the whole printed up on a nice, heavy stock paper.

Those who don't want to lay out big coin for the the three comprehensive collections of Stax singles, nor even the above-mentioned four-disc history, but want all the biggest hits will find this set to be just the right size.