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Stax/Volt - Volume 7



Volume Seven

1. You Got Me Hummin’ – Sam & Dave (2:45)
Pronto-East Music**
Stax 204
Released November 10, 1966
Highest Chart Position: R&B #7 / Pop #77

2. You’re Taking Up Another Man’s Place – Mable John
East Music*
Stax 205
Released November 22, 1966

3. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Carla Thomas
East Music***
Stax 206
Released November 18, 1966

4. Please Uncle Sam (Send Back My Man) – Charmels
East Music*
Volt 142
Released November 21, 1966

5. Something Good (Is Going To Happen To You) – Carla Thomas (2:30)
East Music*
Stax 207
Released January 4, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #29 / Pop #74

6. Raise Your Hand – Eddie Floyd
East Music*
Stax 208
Released January 11, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #16 / Pop #79

7. Ain’t That Loving You (For More Reason Than One) – Johnnie Taylor
East Music*
Stax 209
Released January 11, 1967

8. I Don’t Want To Lose Your Love – Mad Lads (2:19)
East Music*
Volt 143
Released January 16, 1967

9. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby – Sam & Dave
East-Pronto Music**
Released January 23, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #2 / Pop #42

10. Let Me Down Slow – Bobby Wilson (2:10)
East-Crenita Music*
Volt 144
Released January 27, 1967

11. Hip Hug-Her – Booker T. & the MGs
East Music*
Stax 211
Released February 21, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #6 / Pop #37

12. Everybody Loves A Winner – William Bell (2:49)
East Music*
Stax 212
Released March 7, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #18 / Pop #95

13. Mini-Skirt Minnie – Sir Mack Rice (2:30)
East-Pronto Music**
Stax 213
Released March 22, 1967

14. When Tomorrow Comes – Carla Thomas (2:30)
East Music*
Stax 214
Released March 21, 1967

15. The Spoiler – Eddie Purrell
East Music*
Volt 145
Released April 21, 1967

16. I Love You More Than Words Can Say – Otis Redding (2:50)
East-Time-Redwal Music*
Volt 146
Released March 21, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #30 / Pop #78

17. If I Ever Needed Love (I Sure Do Need It Now) – Ruby Johnson (2:18)
East Music*
Volt 147
Released April 7, 1967

18. Same Time, Same Place – Mable John (2:48)
East Music*
Stax 215
Released April 10, 1967

19. Tramp – Otis & Carla
Modern Music****
Stax 216
Released April 13, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #2 / Pop #26

20. Soul Finger – Bar-Kays
(King-P. Jones-Cunningham-Cauley-Caldwell-Alexander)
East Music*
Volt 148
Released April 14, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #3 / Pop #17

21. Knucklehead – Bar-Kays (2:25)
(Cropper-B. Jones)
East Music*
Volt 148-B
Released April 14, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #7 / Pop #77

22. Shake – Otis Redding (2:33)
(Sam Cooke)
Kags Music*****
Volt 149
Released April 27, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #16 / Pop #47
Recorded Live in London, England

23. Born Under A Bad Sign – Albert King (2:44)
(B. Jones-W. Bell)
East Music*
Stax 217
Released May 25, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #49

24. Soothe Me – Sam & Dave
(Sam Cooke)
Kags Music*****
Stax 218
Released May 30, 1967
Highest Chart Position: R&B #16 / Pop #56
Recorded Live in London, England

25. I Can’t Stand Up – Sam & Dave
(H. Banks-A. Jones)
East-Pronto Music**
Stax 218-B
Released May 30, 1967

26. Don’t Rock The Boat – Eddie Floyd
East Music*
Stax 219
Released May 25, 1967
Highest Chart Position: Pop #98


Carla Thomas's second Christmas forty-five, 1966's "All I Want For Christmas," had actually appeared three years earlier as the B-side of "Gee Whiz, It's Christmas." The flip this time out was an Isaac Hayes solo composition entitled "Winter Snow" that a year later would be released as a seasonal record by Booker T. And The MG's and would also be waxed by Hayes himself in 1969. Carla had wanted "Winter Snow" for the A-side.

In January 1967 Carla released her next chart hit, the Hayes-Porter penned "Something Good (Is Going To Happen To You)." Despite reaching the #29 R&B slot and the #74 position on the Pop charts, Carla was not happy with either "Something Good" or Hayes and Porter's next production for her, "When Tomorrow Comes." In her own words: "That's when I started getting away from something basic to me." David Porter remembers attempting "When Tomorrow Comes" several times on Carla. The song was later cut by the Emotions.

Something that Carla did feel was basic to her was a series of duets she recorded with Otis Redding for an album entitled King And Queen. The sessions were cut in December of 1966 when Carla was home from Washington, where she was still doing her master's degree in English at Howard University. It was Jim Stewart's idea to pair the two of them together.

"I had to fight to do it," recalls Stewart.

"They really didn't jump overboard about the idea but after it was done they liked it. I thought it would be helpful to both artists' careers. Carla was always sort of special to me because she was my first artist and I felt she needed a boost. I thought the combination of his rawness and her sophistication would work."

"There may have been a little [apprehension]," agreed Carla, "because I said, 'Well, I'm so used to singing those little sweet ballads, I don't know how I'm going to stack up.' So I talked with Otis and he just said, 'Well, hey, you from Memphis, you from Tennessee, you can hang.' We just ad-libbed and it came off great."

Redding chose a Lowell Fulson song, "Tramp," as the first thing to record as both artists tested the water, and each other, seeing if the combination would click. Earlier in the year Fulson had ridden the song all the way to #5 on the R&B charts. "'Tramp' stands out the most," laughed Carla, "because it was the first and because of all the things I was trying to do to think up interesting lines to say to him ... It brought out a lot of my hidden talents. I found out I could really talk about somebody if I wanted to. I didn't know that until then."

The recording, kicked by Al Jackson's infectious bass drum and snare riff heard solo at the beginning and in two subsequent breaks, and fired by Otis's trademark insistent horn riffing, is simply ferocious. Released as a forty-five in April 1967, Otis and Carla's version of "Tramp" proved to be a big hit, stomping its way to #2 R&B and #26 Pop. The only person unhappy was Lowell Fulson, who felt that the Memphis duo's recording made fun of his composition.

The same month that "Tramp" was issued, Stax released Otis Redding essaying on a Booker T. and Eddie Floyd-written ballad entitled "I Love You More Than Words Can Say." A month hence, a Redding refashioned live version of Sam Cooke's "Shake" was also issued. Amazingly, given the proximity of the releases, both charted. The latter stems from a Stax/Volt package tour of Europe that featured Redding, Sam And Dave, Eddie Floyd, Carla Thomas (for two dates only), Booker T. And The MG's, the Mar-Key Horns and non-Stax artist but Redding protege Arthur Conley. Two live albums were released from this tour as well as one forty-five each by Redding and Sam And Dave. Redding's live performance of "Shake" reached #16 R&B and #47 Pop while "I Love You More Than Words Can Say," recorded back in Memphis at the Stax studio, was a disappointing #30 and #78 respectively.

The Sam And Dave live single was also a cover, in their case of the Sims Twins' "Soothe Me." Coincidentally it also hit #16 R&B, falling just short of the Redding release in Pop performance stopping at #56. The B-side was an emotion-laden non-LP ballad entitled "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down," written by Allen Jones and Homer Banks. Banks had been trying to get into Stax for a few years at this point and was currently employed in the Satellite Record Shop. Jones had earlier co-written The Mad Lads' hit "Don't Have To Shop Around." Curiously, the song sounds as if it could have been created by the Hayes-Porter team as it is very different from Jones and Banks' normal writing style.

According to the late Allen Jones, the song was quite consciously fashioned as close to the Hayes-Porter formula for Sam And Dave as possible. "They created Sam And Dave. So when I wrote 'I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down,' it was based off of writing a song for a style that had been created by David Porter and Isaac Hayes."

Earlier in 1967 Sam And Dave had hit the charts twice with Hayes-Porter compositions. The first, "You Got Me Hummin'," reached only #77 on the Pop charts but was another Top 10 R&B effort.

"We were so sure of what we were doing," Porter laughed. "'You Got Me Hummin’" was a joke. You know ego is a funny thing. When things are happening you start to feel good about what you're doing and you feel you can't miss. We were going to see if we could get a good song out of something that didn't make any sense. We were just playing, teasing [Porter moans] like we were screwing. When we wrote the song we had it sensuous, but when Sam And Dave sung it they didn't know how to be sensuous. Dave sounds like he's in a bathroom. We had so much fun cutting it but it was created as a lark. We were just surprised that it ended up being a forty-five."

Opening with the bass and the left hand of the piano playing the same line, the record is another infectious stomper. On the piano Isaac plays four of the strangest notes conceivable in the way up high. Odd they might be but, as usual with Isaac's experiments, they work perfectly. The first verse is moaned by Sam And Dave in perfect sync. They are obviously enjoying themselves as evidenced by the crazed way they roll their "r's" on the phrase "through me." They are hot and they know it.

The rule of thumb on Sam And Dave's records is that when there is only one keyboard present it is played by Isaac Hayes. When there are two, Hayes played piano and Booker T. played organ. One final item to mention with "You Got Me Hummin'" is Steve Cropper's exquisite shimmering high guitar part.

Sam And Dave's greatest moment just might be their reading of the Hayes and Porter ballad "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby." When the song was conceived, David Porter was married to a woman whom he had gotten pregnant in high school.

"I was quite honestly miserable with her," he remembered. "There was no love there. In the early part of my career I would fantasize about a lot of things that I would come up with for my lyrics. I was in bed one night feeling miserable. Big house and a big car but I'm not in love and I'm not happy. I was fantasizing about what it would really be like to be in love. I got up out of bed and went downstairs and said, 'If I was in love with somebody then the relationship should be such that if something is wrong with her, something is wrong with me: It was about two o'clock in the morning and I wrote the whole song."

Early the next morning Porter called Hayes, sang it for him over the phone and said, "Man, we got a smash."

The song is introduced by four ringing guitar chords followed by bass, understated snare and piano triplets. Sam sings the opening lyric in a quivering high voice wracked with melismas. The second half of the verse, announced by swelling organ, horns and fuller guitar and piano, is given to Dave. The chorus is wrought with emotion as the dynamic duo sing one of their idiosyncratic harmony parts.

"I call them abstract harmony parts,” mused Porter. "Isaac was excellent at harmonies. Isaac would come up with a note for Dave's harmony and Dave would sing the note that he was used to singing when he and Sam had first started out in the clubs. Somehow or another, it would be a distant tone from what Isaac would have given them. It often worked and we wouldn't say anything."

"When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" was the only ballad released as a single by Sam And Dave while they were at Stax. That seems odd considering it was a #2 R&B and #42 Pop hit. One final item worth mentioning concerning the song is that The Astors claim that the song was originally written for them but they were on the road so Sam And Dave were the lucky recipients. Others, still, remember the song being initially slated for Mable John.

Hayes and Porter's follow-up to Mable John's smash "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)" was the similarly styled "You're Taking Up Another Man's Place." John says that the writing process mirrored that which had produced the earlier hit. "We would sit and talk about different things on my mind. All of those songs were stories that I would tell them from me. It worked well. David Porter worked with me hand and foot. He would stand in the booth with me and hit me in my back to make me make certain sounds. It was trauma - it was fun, really fun.”

"You're Taking Up Another Man's Place" received little DJ reaction. April 1967's "Same Time, Same Place" did scarcely better nationally, although John says that it did well in Florida, Texas, Illinois, Detroit and Washington. She claims as well it was a #5 hit in Europe, although it never charted in the U.K. It's hard to understand why John wasn't more commercially successful in the States. Her voice was somewhat limited, but Hayes and Porter crafted songs and arrangements that showcased it in the best possible light. They remain among the finest unknown Stax gems.

At the same time that Hayes-Porter produced Mable John's second Stax outing, they were concocting The Charmels' debut, "Please Uncle Sam (Send Back My Man)." An earlier hybrid of The Charmels had recorded for Volt back in 1961 and '62 as The Tonettes. They had then re-grouped as the Dixiebelles, recording "(Down At) Papa Joe's" on Sound Stage in 1963. That record was produced by former Sun session musician Stan Kesler in Nashville. Before all was said and done the group, then consisting of Shirley Thomas, Mary Hunt and Mildred Pratcher, had a #9 Hot 100 hit. Thomas didn't make the transition to The Charmels. She was replaced by baritone Eula Jean Rivers. Hunt was a soprano and Pratcher was an alto. Isaac Hayes decided they needed a strong lead voice to complete the ensemble. One night while watching an embryonic version of the Bar-Kays at the Hippodrome, he heard a female singer named Barbara McCoy sit in with the group.

McCoy was tight with the Bar-Kays' guitarist Jimmie King. She remembers singing Stevie Wonder's 1966 hit "With A Child's Heart" (which appeared on the Bar-Kays' first album) at the show and Isaac approaching her afterward. "Isaac said, 'I got this group and they need a lead singer. Are you interested in professional recording?" He told her to come down to the studio the next day. There she auditioned on "Walk On By" which, of course, was the song that in a couple of years would catapult Hayes to fame as a solo singer.

The Charmels were the first secular group McCoy had ever sung with. She was always very nervous and would insist that the studio lights be turned down so that she couldn't see anybody on the other side of the glass when she was recording. "Please Uncle Sam" was, for Stax, an atypically Fifth Dimension sounding high ballad. "They wrote songs specifically around my voice and they were always sweet and kind of high," recalled McCoy. She says the songs were often written casually in the studio while the group was hanging around the piano eating chicken and drinking Cherry Kijafa wine. The Charmels had a total of four forty-fives issued by Volt, none of which saw any national chart activity.

A few months after The Charmels' debut, Ruby Johnson had her last shot at the brass ring. "If I Ever Needed Love (I Sure Do Need It Now)" was the third straight heart-melter that Hayes and Porter had written and produced on her. The record didn't chart but its near-unbearable melancholy continues to have impact on all those who get to hear it. Now you have your chance.

Stax/Volt released a slew of records by solo male vocalists in the first few months of 1967. Eddie Floyd followed "Knock On Wood" with the sound-alike "Raise Your Hand,” taking it all the way to #16 R&B, #79 Pop. His next record, "Don't Rock The Boat," co-written with occasional Stax contributor Joe Shamwell, didn't chart at all.

The responsibility for writing Johnnie Taylor's fourth Stax single was given over to Allen Jones and Homer Banks, although Isaac Hayes still arranged it. "Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)" was written in Allen Jones' dingy office on Beale Street, directly across from Handy Park. Estelle Axton liked the song, as did Al Bell. The song was consequently accepted by the company but it then laid dormant for quite a while before it was cut by Taylor. Although not charting nationally, it did get a lot of airplay in the early winter of 1967 in the South, resulting in Homer Banks finally getting a writer's contract with the company. A couple of years later that writer's contract would payoff in a big way for the label with "Who's Making Love," which Banks co-wrote for Johnnie Taylor, and, in 1970, Luther Ingram had a #6 R&B hit with "Ain't That Loving You" for the Stax-associated KoKo label.

As winter was slowly working its way to spring, William Bell released a song he had co-written with Booker T., "Everybody Loves A Winner." For the session Booker had written a string arrangement, hiring players from the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. It was one of the first occasions that Stax had sweetened their records in such a fashion.

"I was one of the first to use strings," asserted Bell, "because I guess the sound that I had by being a ballad singer kinda dictated strings more so than a lot of the other stuff." The experiment was a success, going all the way to #18 R&B while gracing the Pop charts at #95.

That same month Detroit singer Mack Rice cut his first record for Stax. Rice had sung with Eddie Floyd and Wilson Pickett in the Falcons and as Sir Mack Rice he had a big R&B hit with "Mustang Sally" for the Mercury subsidiary Blue Rock in early summer 1965. It was through Floyd that he came down to Memphis both as a writer and as a performer. He cut two singles, the first being "Mini-Skirt Minnie," which was loosely modeled on the earlier "Mustang Sally." The song had a fine groove but nothing happened with it.

There were two mystery records cut nearly back-to-back for Volt released in early 1967. The first was the very gospelish "Let Me Down Slow" by one Bobby Wilson. The song is self-written and no one at the company can remember anything about him, which makes one think that it might have been a lease job. The second was by Eddie Purrell. Purrell's "The Spoiler" was a rare example of bassist Duck Dunn writing outside the context of The MG's. He co-wrote the song with Booker T. The song has a fine near-pop sound to it, but Purrell was never heard from again.

A month after the Purrell disc, Stax released Albert King's "Born Under A Bad Sign." Soon thereafter covered by Cream, the song has taken on classic status. Surprisingly it only reached #49 R&B when issued by King.

Booker T. Jones and William Bell wrote the song. "We needed a blues song for Albert King," recalled Bell. "I had this idea in the back of my mind that I was gonna do myself. Astrology and all that stuff was pretty big then. I said, 'Hey, we've never had a blues tune done about astrology. I got this idea that might work.''' Bell had also come up with the song's riff while fooling around on guitar. Once written, the song was demoed. The demo turned out sounding so good that King simply overdubbed his guitar and vocal, with the demo becoming the backing track.

The Mad Lads' "I Don't Want To Lose Your Love" was a bit of a change of pace for the group, featuring a bluesy reflective solo guitar intro, a mid-tempo groove, and rougher than usual lead vocals. This edition of The Mad Lads included Quincy Billops, formerly of The Premiers and soon to join Ollie And The Nightingales. Billops was filling in for William Brown, who was serving his hitch in the Army. The change turned out to be for nada. The record was fine, but radio play was virtually nonexistent

Booker T. And The MG's had more luck with "Hip Hug-Her," achieving their first Top 10 R&B placement since 1965's "Boot-Leg" and their first Top 40 Pop success since 1962's "Green Onions." Booker T. credits his studies at Indiana University for some of "Hip Hug-Her's" success. "I can remember I was in college when I wrote 'Hip Hug-Her,'" reflected Booker. "I remember the way I was voicing the chords and knowing for sure what those notes were I was playing gave me confidence I didn't have when I recorded 'Green Onions,' for instance."

The record, seemingly recorded in New York, has a great opening metallic guitar sound followed by heavy bass, organ and guitar riffing. "We wrote sounds," emphasized Booker. "We thought a lot about sounds."

Two months later the first record by what was being groomed as a second studio group was cut. The Bar-Kays had been playing around Memphis for a while at this point. They had evolved out of what had been the Imperials. The new name was inspired by a Bacardi Rum billboard at the intersection of Crump and Georgia in Memphis. Trumpeter Ben Cauley says that they were the first "stepping" band in Memphis.

"Soul Finger" was an instant smash.

The rhythmic idea for the song occurred to the band while they were onstage backing future Soul Children member Norman West performing J.J. Jackson's hit, "But It's Alright." "At the end of the song we started jamming a little riff," explained Cauley, "extending the song, adlibbing and stuff and we came up with the rhythm to settle it down."

Once in the studio they were working on a version of Phil Upchurch's instrumental cover of the Dovells' "You Can't Sit Down." Jim Stewart felt that it would be a good first single. At one point during the session he went out to get a Coke. When he came back into the studio the Bar-Kays were jamming on "Soul Finger."

"Jim walked backed in," laughed Cauley. "'What's that you all doing?' 'Oh it's just something we made up.' 'Do it again, do it again.' So we did it again man, and he just about flipped. 'That's a hit, let's cut it.' So we cut that version and we said, 'Now there's still something missing here.' We got to thinking, and I always would do little comical things on trumpet, so I did 'Mary's little Lamb' and they said, 'Why don't you put that on the front of it man.' It started happening from that point on. We cut it in about fifteen minutes."

The title was provided by Hayes and Porter. As well, Porter came up with the idea of bringing in a bunch of local children, who were hanging around outside the studio, to shout the song's title and carry-on as if there was a party ensuing while the record was being played. "I bought them all Coca-Colas," recalled Porter, "and I said, 'Every time I do this you all say "Soul Finger.'" Then I instructed [Bar~Kays bassist] James Alexander what he should say into the microphone."

"Soul Finger" clocked in at #3 R&B, # 17 Pop. The B-side, "Knucklehead," written by Steve Cropper and Booker T. Jones, also charted, sailing to #28 R&B, #76 Pop. Booker T. is playing the harmonica.

*Irving Music, BMI Administered outside the US by Warner Tamerlane Publishing Corp.
**Pronto Music/Irving Music, BMI Administered by Warner Tamerlane Publishing Corp.
***Irving Music, BMI Administered outside the US by Rondor Music
****Budget Music/Powerforce Music, BMI
*****ABKCO Music, BMI
For authenticity, producer and publisher credits are listed as they appeared on the original singles. Current Publishing information accompanies each individual volume. Prior to 1967, producer credits were not generally listed on single labels.
U.S. chart positions courtesy of Billboard


This compilation (P) & © 1001 Atlantic Recording Company for the United States and WEA International Inc., for the world outside of the United States.
Stax ® and Volt ® are registered trademarks of Fantasy, Inc.

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