R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

VOICES Notes and news on R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax releases

Jam Session

14 OCT 10 DAVID NATHAN

Stax label president Al Bell decided that the company needed to establish itself as more than just a hit singles-oriented operation and with a move to new distribution. He went out on an all-out push to have virtually every artist on the label cut full albums. One of the albums produced during this period was Jammed Together, featuring the talents of blues legend Albert King, Stax houseband and MGs member Steve Cropper and Pop Staples of The Staple Singers.

No matter the reason behind the recording, it works. Sensibly relying on a number of tunes that would be familiar to music buyers, the trio chose a couple of Stax tracks, both Eddie Floyd numbers ("Big Bird" and "Knock On Wood," given a frantic and somewhat frenetic workout) alongside a Ray Charles classic ("What'd I Say") and two cuts popularized by blues pioneers, Jimmy Reed's "Baby, What You Want Me To Do" and John Lee Hooker's "Tupelo" which is an album standout, featuring the plaintive distinctive vocals of Pop Staples, whose aptitude for lyrical storytelling was perfectly suited to the stark flavor of the song.

Jammed Together featured a number of Stax producers including Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Homer Banks and two of Cropper's bandmates Booker T. Jones and Al Jackson Jr. It stands as a testament to the none-too-shabby skills of three great musicians.

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    Big Bird

    Albert King, Steve Cropper & Pop Staples ...