Filed under: News, Reviews, Contests | Tags: dvd, Kevin Wilder, Memphis, movie review, soul music, Stax, The Stax Records Story
DVD REVIEW :: BY KEVIN WILDER
“In Memphis in the sixties, people who couldn’t dine together joined together to make music…soul music…at a place called STAX.”
I’ll admit, I’ve never been much of a soul music fan. There might be a couple Motown records in my bins, but I rarely pull them out for a spin. Still, Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story couldn’t have made the subject more interesting. And thanks to the fun, upbeat documentary about this landmark family-run label, I now have a newfound appreciation for the genre.
Maybe there’s something in all of us, like it or not, that can’t resist tapping our feet when we hear songs like “Respect,” “Green Onions,” “My Girl,” and “Soul Man” (all hits that premiered on the Stax label). The Mar-Keys, Booker T. & the MG’s, Otis Redding, and the dynamic songwriting team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter all helped shape popular radio as we know it. Stax’s “raw, gritty soul” would become the biggest competition of Motown’s “sophisticated, polished soul.”
This was one of the first—and certainly finest—examples of interracial music. The film draws many parallels between the music that was made, and its prominent place within the civil rights movement. Co-founder Estelle Axton knew how to recognize talent and find new dance records. And when Al Bell, who studied with Martin Luther King, left his job as DJ on the east coast, he returned south to handle the label’s promotions. As Memphis refused to integrate, these folks readily introduced Satellite Records and a nearby hotel pool as some of the only places whites and blacks could hang out together.
There’s much to be enjoyed in this documentary, like a European Tour where the artists were treated like stars and getting a taste of their worldwide appreciation, ending with the Monteray Pop Festival with over 50,000 people in attendance. You’ll also witness painful moments, like Otis Redding’s plane crash, and the inevitable deterioration of the label. And who knows—you might find yourself looking at your parents’ musical tastes in a whole new light.
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