The Complete Stax/Volt Singles, 1959-1968

by: Various Artists

At nine discs and 244 tracks, The Complete Stax-Volt Singles: 1959-1968 is far too exhaustive for casual fans, but that's not who the set is designed for -- it's made for the collector. Featuring every A-side the label released during those nine years, as well as several B-sides, the set is a definitive portrait of gritty, deep Southern soul. Many of the genre's major names -- Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Booker T. & the MG's, William Bell, Rufus Thomas, the Bar-Kays, Albert King -- plus many terrific one-shot wonders are showcased in terrific sound and augmented with an in-depth booklet. For any serious soul or rock collector, it's an essential set, since Stax-Volt was not only a musically revolutionary label, its roster was deep with talent, which means much of the music on this collection is first-rate. But if you only want the hits, you'll be better off with a smaller collection, since too much of this set will sound too similar, and sorting through the nine discs will be a monumental task if you only want to hear Otis, Rufus, Carla, and Sam & Dave. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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