Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Emotions - My Honey and Me (Volt 4077)

My Honey and Me

Get excited. This coming Saturday, April 21st, marks the fifth annual Record Store Day, which has evolved from its humble beginnings into a worldwide event commemorated by scores of limited edition vinyl releases issued exclusively to participating record stores beginning that day. This year there are some notable Soul issues, including the stunningly retro Fame Singles Box from our friends at ACE, a gold vinyl 'side by side' of Respect by both Aretha and Otis from Rhino Handmade, and unreleased JB's at The Apollo cuts from Hip-O-Select/UME. Perhaps the sweetest, and most ambitious, of these comes from Light in the Attic.

Described as a "Love letter to the final years at Stax Records," Never To Be Forgotten: The Flip Side of Stax 1968-1974, is a beautiful boxed set of ten painstakingly remastered and recreated 45s that originally appeared on Stax, Volt and subsidiary label We Produce. The box also includes "an extensive 84-page bounded booklet brimming with informative interviews with the surviving musicians contained within and liner notes by Memphis writer Andria Lisle, candid photographs, and personal anecdotes from Stax enthusiasts and label veterans Stewart, co-owner Al Bell, and promotions manager Phillip Rauls." I'm happy to report that one of those 'enthusiasts' is yours truly, who contributed a few words about Johnnie Taylor's amazing Love In The Streets which we featured over on The B Side way back in 2006. The set is limited to 4000 hand-numbered copies, fifteen of which will include random autographed photos. How cool is that?

This sultry swinger of a tune we have here today (ripped from the original single) is included in the box, and is a great example of that late-period Stax sound, which ventured to go beyond McLemore Avenue to Muscle Shoals, Detroit and, in this case, Chicago. The Emotions came out of the same Windy City Gospel tradition as Johnnie Taylor and The Staple Singers, and it was Pervis Staples who first brought them to Stax. Produced by Jim Stewart and Al Jackson (who had recently teamed up to propel The Soul Children's Hearsay into the R&B top five), the studio band at this point featured Marvell Thomas and Bobby Manuel in this post-Cropper and Booker T era. It would beat out composer Luther Ingram's original 1969 version by one point, climbing to #18 R&B in early 1972, and I agree with Rob Bowman who says that "the trio turns in a performance that, for my money, leaves Ingram's version on the floor."

This great package is yet another example of a record company having the courage to forego the CD format (which is quickly going the way of the 8 track tape), and include an 'mp3 download card' along with the high quality vinyl release, so you can put it on your iPod... a trend I heartily endorse. Last June, I visited the United Record Pressing plant in Nashville, where they manufacture the majority of these retro re-releases, often times on the very same machinery that pressed them in the first place. Thanks to the advent of the 'download card' they told me, they're busier than they have been in years. "In Vinyl Veritas!"

Get out there to your favorite record store on Saturday, and get yourself some. You won't be sorry!


Speaking of Stax and 'Never to be Forgotten', please join me in saying goodbye to one of the cornerstones of the label, Andrew Love. As Wayne Jackson's partner in The Memphis Horns, Love appeared on virtually every single Stax released up until 1969, not to mention countless others cut at Memphis studios like Royal, American, and Sam Phillips. As the world began to take notice, it is said that the duo appeared on 52 Number One hits. They were recognized by The Grammys with a Lifetime Achievement Award this past February.

A memorial service for Love will be held on April 20 at 5 pm at Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, 555 Vance Avenue, Memphis. His funeral will also take place at Mt. Nebo on April 21 at 11 am.