Almost 31 years after Stax Records declared bankruptcy, Concord Music Group is reactivating the legendary Memphis label with new signings (Isaac Hayes, Angie Stone) and a long slate of reissues. This new two-disc set provides a succinct, 50-song aural history of the evolution of Southern soul, from the early Sixties through the mid-Seventies. Beginning with Carla Thomas' 1960 ballad, "Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)," we follow Stax into the "Green Onions"-flavored salad days when Booker T. & the MGs defined the label's aesthetic alongside Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Eddie Floyd. Redding is well-represented by both obvious ("I've Been Loving You Too Long (to Stop Now)") and not-so-obvious ("Tramp" with Carla Thomas) inclusions, but where's "Try a Little Tenderness"? As for Floyd, "Knock on Wood" is a given, but why leave off a tour de force like "Big Bird"? On the plus side, you do get choice deeper cuts like Johnnie Taylor's "Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone," Little Milton's "That's What Love Will Make You Do," and the Dramatics' "In the Rain." Though aficionados of the label's embarrassment of classic sides will quibble about the final track listing, this remains a perfectly serviceable collection for more casual fans. (Thursday, March 15, Antone's, 7:30pm)
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