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.
Rance Allen – Stax Profiles (Selected by Deanie Parker)
There’s joy "way down in my soul," Rance Allen proclaims, and it’s evident in every one of the 16 songs on this Stax Profiles collection. Handpicked by Deanie Parker—who worked at Stax Records as a singer, songwriter, and publicity director, and now runs the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis—the selections span the years 1971-75 when the Detroit-born singer, pianist, and guitarist, along with his brothers Steve and Tom, revolutionized gospel music with their spirit-filled recordings for the Stax subsidiary labels Gospel Truth and Truth. Besides the David Porter–penned hit "Ain’t No Need of Crying," the disc includes many Rance Allen originals and his readings of gospel classics by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Brother Joe May, and Rev. James Cleveland. Allen’s emotion-charged, multi-octave vocal delivery is one of the wonders of the music world, and the joy he projects is simply overwhelming.