Written In Their Soul: The STAX Songwriter Demos (ENG review)

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Written In Their Soul: The STAX Songwriter Demos (FR review)

I feel that just the title of this STAX box set is going to make many people dream… starting with myself, because even though I specialize in jazz, I’ve always had a passion for this genre of music, which I share with my friend and great specialist of this music, Jay Myers from Release It Radio, who is also our partner. I must thank another friend, without whom we would never have had the opportunity to review this little marvel, Gilbert Guyonnet, a great blues specialist (ABS magazine/ Radio Clapas, France).
In this set of 7 CDs, we find 146 demos and working versions of songs composed by the iconic authors of the Memphis label (including Isaac Hayes, William Bell, Steve Cropper, Eddie Floyd, and Bettye Crutcher) for the leading performers of Stax, among them Rufus and Carla Thomas, the Staple Singers, Luther Ingram, and Booker T. Jones, as well as many others who are less known but equally talented. It is therefore both a historical document and a wonderful way to immerse oneself in that era, to feel its strength, vitality, groove, and to rediscover these tracks together, a beautiful way to honor the STAX label.
And since these are demos, sometimes you’ll hear an extremely saturated sound, as is the case with the track “Got To Make You Mine,” performed by Eddie Floyd, but it doesn’t matter because it feels so good to dive back into this culture and feel all the vibrations. Deannie Parker’s imperial voice will make you dance on “Spin It.” It’s impossible to cover all these creations in a few words because these albums are a succession of breathtaking talents!
The booklet provided with these albums is extremely rich. It tells you the stories and context behind these demos, with a layout that respects the standards of the time, including archival photos, because STAX is a family, a style, a cultural and social history linked to the history of the USA.
Most of the audio files are of very good quality. For those with a well-trained ear for mixing, the only way to know that these are demos is that the main vocals are often a bit too upfront, with minimalist music in the background. But even then, if we engage our brains, we can sense the arrangements of the brass instruments, even when they are absent.
To illustrate the importance of this CD, the French newspaper Liberation published an article about this box set titled “The Hidden Treasure of STAX,” Written In Their Soul: The STAX Songwriter Demos, just a few months after the release of the monumental anthology Whattstax ’72.
Faced with such a monument, the editorial teams of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move have no choice but to classify Written In Their Soul: The STAX Songwriter Demos as one of our “Essentials.”

Thierry De Clemensat
Correspondent in USA
Bayou Blue News – Bayou Blue Radio – Paris-Move

PARIS-MOVE, July 4th 2023


To buy the Digital album: HERE