R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

Two Groups, One Soul

02 MAR 10 DAVID NATHAN

While Stax Records boasted a veritable truckload of great solo singers, the label's stock of groups was a little less formidable. There were exceptions, however, such as The Astors and The Newcomers, both found on Sweet Soul From Memphis.

The Astors joined Stax in 1961 and didn't hit the charts until 1965 with the classic "Candy," a Top 20 R&B hit. The five singles they recorded reflect the best in doo-wop-based stylings as evidenced by tracks like "What Can It Be," "Just Enough To Hurt Me" and the Motown-esque "In The Twilight Zone." By 1967, the group had broken up and within a few years the Stax roster had expanded to include The Dramatics, The Emotions and The Newcomers.

Initially reflective of the teen style of The Jackson 5, The Newcomers enjoyed initial success with the infectious "Pin The Tail On The Donkey" in 1971. There were some deeper cuts like the ultra-soulful "(Too Little Common To Be Lovers) Too Much Going On To Say Goodbye " while the group tried to compete with The O'Jays with tunes like "Keep An Eye On Your Close Friends" and "The Whole World's A Picture Show."

While neither group achieved sustained acceptance as chartmakers, The Astors and The Newcomers certainly embodied the title of the 20-track compilation Sweet Soul From Memphis that is most assuredly a part of the sterling legacy that Stax Records built through the '60s and '70s.