Stax Records is synonymous with Southern soul music. Originally known as Satellite when it was founded in 1957 by Jim Stewart, the fledgling company set down roots in Memphis two years later and in 1961 changed its name to Stax, from the first two initials of Stewart’s last name and that of his sister and co-owner, Estelle Axton. Among the many artists who scored hits on Stax and its Volt subsidiary during the Sixties were Rufus and Carla Thomas, Booker T. & the MGs (an interracial instrumental quartet that also served as the company’s rhythm section), Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, and Otis Redding. Redding’s death in 1967 signaled the end of the first Stax era (to which Atlantic retains distribution rights). Subsequently the company spawned a new crop of hitmakers, among them Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, and the Dramatics. In June 1977, a year and a half after Stax went bankrupt, the company’s masters were purchased by Fantasy, Inc., which periodically revived the Stax and Volt logos for new recordings, in addition to reissuing older material. Stax/Volt became part of the Concord Music Group in 2004.
Albert King – Stax Profiles (Selected by Bill Belmont)
Perhaps no one in the music business knows more about the recordings of blues titan Albert King than does Bill Belmont. A longtime executive at Fantasy Records, Belmont has been rummaging through the treasure trove of Stax tapes on the second floor of the Fantasy building in Berkeley, California, searching for King music to reissue—and, in many cases, to issue for the first time—ever since Fantasy acquired Stax in 1977. He’s come up with another real winner here. It includes a live rendition of King’s first hit, "Don’t Throw Your Love on Me So Strong," recorded during the bluesman’s famous 1968 string of gigs at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium, and the full-length version "I’ll Play the Blues for You," King’s 1972 hit studio collaboration with the Bar-Kays. And, as icing on the cake, there’s a previously unissued version of "Born Under a Bad Sign" from 1983, on which King was joined by his leading guitar disciple, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan.