VARIOUS: Stax, The Soul Of Hip Hop (Label: Stax, Concord)

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VARIOUS: Stax, The Soul Of Hip Hop

Concord continue to do a splendid job with the old Stax catalogue and though the output isn’t huge, in terms of quality, it’s outstanding. Now, the concept of this new compilation isn’t groundbreaking … there have been dozens of soul collections that bring together classic tunes that have been sampled by the hip-hop brigades but most have been predictable in choice… this one isn’t. It would be easy (given the size of the mighty Stax vault and hip-hop’s exploitation of it) to fill this set with the obvious, but compiler Jonathan Kaslow hasn’t. He’s cherry-picked cuts that may have escaped the casual soul fan and hopefully their inclusion here might encourage said casual fan to investigate more. Case in point is the magnificent ‘Blind Alley’ from the wonderful Emotions. I’ve always felt that their Stax work has been largely ignored – now, maybe, the time’s right for a reassessment. Other lesser know gems herein include ‘Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth’ from 24-Carat Black, David Porter’s ‘I’m Afraid The Masquerade Is Over’, Wendy Rene’s ‘After The Laughter Comes The Tears’, ‘As Long As I Got You’ from the Charmels and ‘Why Marry’ from the Sweet Inspirations – another criminally ignored group. The featured Stax big hitters number Booker T, the Dramatics, Rufus Thomas, Little Milton, William Bell and Isaac Hayes. Hayes gets two cuts – ‘Hung Up On My Baby’ and ‘Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymitsic’, which I always felt was the weakest cut on ‘Hot Buttered Soul’, but here, out of that context, it takes on a new majesty. The sleeve notes, as you’d expect fill you in with all the details of which hip-hop star sampled what, when and where and I suppose that’s a good way into the music for people coming to soul a-new, so to speak. Hopefully the hip-hop fans might be encouraged to find out more about good old Isaac, William Bell, the Dramatics – even the Charmels, and let’s hope too that soul followers will, themselves, dig deeper into the Stax vault. Great compilation…
(BB) 4/5