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Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion (Anglais) Relié – 16 janvier 2014

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Book by Gordon Robert

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.6 étoiles sur 5 60 commentaires
33 internautes sur 38 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The History of Satellite/Stax Records 13 novembre 2013
Par G.I Gurdjieff - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I read an electronic version of this book compliments of NetGalley. The opinions expressed here are mine alone.
From beginning to ending this book is the story of Stax Records. Stax was founded by a brother and sister, Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton, who were interested in music and wanted to promote the funky music that was being created in their home base of Memphis. Financed primarily by a second mortgage on Estelle's home, they worked on a shoe string budget that required day jobs to pay the bills and studio business was transacted in their spare time.
In its entirety this is an interesting story. These were two people with a dream, but not exactly positioned to run a business and have it become hugely successful. Even more improbable, Stewart and Axton were white and most of the people who worked for them and also comprised their talent base were black. While segregation was huge in the south, once inside Stax there was racial equality and an intoxicating sense that the music would bring this diverse group forward both professionally and personally. Unfortunately, Jim's relative lack of expertise as the business grew and Estelle's role of mother hen had them often at odds with one another. Eventually, Jim nudged Estelle out of the company that she co-founded and Jim took on an African American partner who took the company to national prominence. Eventually, Stax became a victim of its own success and crashed and burned only to be revived again for another generation.
Though not exactly heavy reading, I found this book consistently interesting as an equally interesting cast of characters came and went which included Carla Thomas, Booker T and the MG's, Issac Hayes, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Steve Cropper, and the Staple Singers. I grew up on these people's music and had no idea how or if they were actually connected in some way. I also had no idea that initially cutting a record did not guarantee tangible wealth in the early days of Stax. The company's initial growth started out very slowly in the early years despite some bonafide hits. Clearly there was a huge learning curve as the brother/sister team tried to develop their business and searched for the talent to get to the top. This book provided me with a sense of how the record business worked and why promotion was so important in its overall growth.
There were funny stories about a group of these performers going to Europe to be swamped by fans and hanging out with the Beetles or Jim Stewart not picking up Aretha Franklin's contract when he had the opportunity to do so. No wonder he needed a savvy partner to recognize a great opportunity should it present itself again.
This book conveyed a lot of intimacy and made me feel like I knew these people personally. I'd turn a page and hit on how the song Green Onions got its name or how someone contributed a riff to a song that changed it completely. In viewing Stax and its liberal atmosphere where there really was no racial discord, it foreshadowed changes in american society that would occur in the years to come.
Overall, the family drama and the collaborative efforts to bring soul and funk to a greater audience made for a great story.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Long overdue history of an iconic American record company. 6 janvier 2014
Par Paul Tognetti - Publié sur
Format: Relié
"Artist after artist, song after song, Stax gave voice to the hearts and minds of a people too long silenced. And with that voice, Stax brought power to its artists and also to its audience. Stax had become the song of a nation." - page 341

As a collector of popular music for nearly a half century I was pretty familiar with the story of how Stax records was founded in Memphis, Tennessee in the late 1950's by a most unlikely duo. Jim Stewart was a fiddle player in a country swing band who decided to start a record company. His sister Estelle was so taken with the idea that she convinced her husband to mortgage their home in order to help the company that would become Stax get off the ground. What was really kind of bizarre was that Jim Stewart wanted to record black artists. Conventional wisdom said that the odds were stacked against them. But Jim Stewart and his fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants record company proved the skeptics wrong. Over the next two decades Stax would become a major force in American popular music. Robert Gordon has been writing about Memphis music and history for more than three decades. His latest effort "Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion" is a meticulously researched and downright entertaining book. It turns out that there was a whole lot about the history of Stax that I was unaware of. I simply could not put his one down.

In "Respect Yourself" you will learn about all of the major players at Stax, from the management to the extremely talented stable of house musicians to the major stars like Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Carla Thomas and The Staple Singers to name but a few. In addition, Gordon offers up the story behind the story on so many of the label's major hits including "Gee Whiz", "Green Onions", "Who's Makin' Love?", "Theme from `Shaft" and "I'll Take You There". The author also recalls the heartbreaking plane crash that claimed the lives of four members of The Bar-Kays and the label's biggest star Otis Redding on a frigid night in Wisconsin in late 1967. Many thought that Stax would never recover. Then you will meet Al Bell who would eventually become a co-owner of Stax. As you will discover, this was the man who was largely responsible for the spectacular rise and ultimate demise of the company. Under the leadership of Al Bell Stax would enter into a number of questionable deals with other labels in an effort to expand into new markets and to increase distribution. Robert Gordon also spends considerable time profiling other influential people at the label such as Steve Cropper, Johnnie Baylor, David Porter and Booker T. Jones. What Gordon provides for his readers is a comprehensive and no holds barred history of the label. He pulls no punches and shows a willingness to call `em as he sees `em. What would ultimately become of Stax was truly an American tragedy.

As I indicated earlier I could not put "Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion" down. This is at once a well-written, extremely informative and highly entertaining book that would be a perfect choice for music enthusiasts, history buffs and general readers alike. History comes alive in this book and "Respect Yourself" deserves a place in every library in America. Very highly recommended!
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of the best books about music, a record label and a city... 2 janvier 2014
Par Duke Mantee - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Robert Gordon has outdone himself again. His "It Came From Memphis", is a wonderful chronicle of that city's pop/soul music heritage. In "Respect Yourself" he narrows his focus to the history of Stax Records, one of America's great record labels. But narrowing the focus to one label opens up the book to virtually the post '50s history of Memphis and the history of some of the greatest music ever recorded in America. Stax, a small label founded by two white siblings, a sister and a brother, was located in a small studio and office building in the heart of Memphis. After creating a catalog of wonderful music they entered into a near-disasterous agreement with Atlantic Records, then righted themselves and created another catalog of tremendous soul music. The pressures of success led to further complications,from without and from within, until the whole company imploded. This is a book which ties the history of soul music with the civil rights movement, the death of the small independent music distributors, the rise of the corporate giants, the twisted world of radio promotion and the hubris of many in charge. Great anecdotes and stories about Otis Redding,Isaac Hayes, The Staples Singers, Booker T and the MGs, Eddie Floyd, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Wattstax, Rufus Thomas and many many others. Highest recommendation!
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Great American Documentary of R and B Music 1 août 2015
Par Terry W. Moore - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
A great American Documentary of the 60s with America on the cusp of racial tension and great R and B as the whites and blacks come together for the creation of great music that lives in the American Psyche forever. A great portrayal of Otis Redding, one of the best singers in the music business. This in-depth look is extraordinary in its detail and analysis. Our country could learn a lot about working together from this book of mutual respect.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Tremendous book...totally brings the Stax history to life 18 décembre 2015
Par Midnight To Six - Publié sur
Format: Broché
**Review originally appeared at

I read a lot of books about music, some for fun and some to review. I like almost all of them, but I don’t kid myself. I know that most are appealing simply because I’m interested in learning more about music, and not because the writing is particularly well executed. Respect Yourself is the rare music book with an exciting subject matter, in this case it’s the multiple rises and falls of Stax Records, that’s also really well written. Author Robert Gordon’s lyrical prose and exquisite word choices, are a difference maker, elevating the book beyond just a good story, simply told. For example:

Stax stood tall as a symbol of opportunity, a beacon in the neighborhood, the glow from the ascending stars ensconcing nearby residents.

You won’t find a sentence like that in Motley Crue’s The Dirt.

Gordon is also a subject matter expect, having written about Memphis and its local music scene for over thirty years. His knowledge enables him to frame the label’s story through outside elements of city politics, civil rights upheaval (a key element in the story of a white-owned Southern R&B label with an interracial house band, Booker T. and The MGs), and a cadre of local characters that came through the label’s doors at 926 East McLemore Ave.

As for the story itself, it’s a great one, with two distinct halves. The first half covers the period from when co-owners Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton launched the label as a small neighborhood enterprise in 1957, through the death of its biggest star Otis Redding and the loss of the back catalogue to Atlantic Records in 1968. The second tracks the label’s re-launch under new co-owner Al Bell, who brought it back from the dead and returned it to the spotlight when Isaac Hayes’ genius album Hot Buttered Soul turned him into a superstar. Bell also ushered in a new, uglier, capitalistic mindset at the label, marked by violent gun-toting enforcers, endless nonsensical business acquisitions, and generally shady activities. Of course, it didn’t end well, with bankruptcy shutting Stax’s doors in 1975, and Bell up on charges of bank fraud (he would be acquitted). Amazingly, Gordon makes you care about the business side of Stax as much, if not more, than the musical – the stories about radio promotions men as satisfying as those of the label’s roster of hit-makers. An important inclusion in any music geek’s library.
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