R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

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

Three Soulful Sirens

21 NOV 08 DAVID NATHAN

For a long time, Carla Thomas ruled the roost at Stax. She was indeed "The Queen Alone," as the title of one of her albums suggested. But it wasn't long before the label would welcome three other sirens whose hits ushered in a new era of soul.

In 1966, came the diminutive Mable John (sister of R&B star Willie John), a future Raelette with Ray Charles, who hit the charts with her classic "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)." A couple of years later, Stax signed The Staple Singers and we were afforded not only wonderful recordings by the group but also Mavis Staples' first, stellar solo work via two great albums, an eponymous debut and the brilliant Only For The Lonely.

Then, in 1969, New Orleans-based Margie Joseph brought her own brand of powerhouse vocalizing to Stax/Volt with the appropriately-titled Makes A New Impression, a set that gained an immediate and positive response among in the soul music fraternity thanks to an extended version of The Supremes' "Stop! In The Name Of Love," complete with a self-penned spoken intro that helped set the stage for future recordings by others such as Shirley Brown with the 1974 perennial Woman To Woman.

Fortunately, Mable, Mavis and Margie are all still represented in the Stax catalog on CD. Mable's Stay Out Of The Kitchen and CD sets by Mavis and Margie serve as true primers for the best in Stax soul sister singin'.