(1967) At last Stax gets its own Label in the UK although they still carried the message "Under licence from Atlantic Recording Corpn., U.S.A.". This record label had a relatively short life but was pretty successful in establishing the 'Stax' brand in the UK. There are some memorable moments courtesy of Otis Redding and Sam & Dave including sides that were not issued as singles in the USA (601004 & 601005).
Sadly, Otis died at the height of his career along with many of the Bar-Kays who were also enjoying their share of popularity. While this was a heavy blow for Stax, there were still a lot of other very strong acts signed to the label able to keep things going. The sheer breadth of talent was breathtaking.
Old favourites Eddie Floyd and Carla Thomas did some of their best work in a while. The Otis & Carla duets were an absolute triumph and showed the way for other Stax couplings in later years. Rufus Thomas did a knock-out job on 'Memphis Train' and kept the dancing alive with 'Sophisticated Sissy' while Booker T., William Bell and Albert King showed what they were made of - pure blues & soul.
New names (to Stax) were Johnnie Taylor and Mabel John. Their first singles (601003 & 601010 respectively) are real gems and certainly the hardest to find from this series. Most 'dealers' that I have spoken to haven't seen or heard of them - probably because they don't command a high price (yet). Johnnie Taylor's 'Ain't That Loving You' was co-written by Booker T. Jones and Homer Banks and has subsequently been recorded by Isaac Hayes and Luther Ingram among others.
Mabel John is one of the few artists that have recorded for both Motown and Stax. Two other girls, Judy Clay and Ruby Johnson showed that they weren't to be overshadowed by the established names. Judy would later partner William Bell on 'Private Number' giving the re-born Stax label one of it's first big hits and help it through even more hard times.
The big money tends to be paid for the Derek Martin (601039) and Linda Lyndell (601041) records. This is because of their popularity with Northern Soul collectors. Very few Stax records have been accepted as Northern Soul probably because they have that heavier 'southern' (as in USA) feel. With Derek Martin, it's the B side, 'Sly Girl' that gets most of the plays. The Linda Lyndell song is a little too 'twee' for me. Pipe and Slippers - what's all that about??? I much prefer her later 'What A Man' that was, sadly, never issued as a Stax 45 in the UK. (It was eventually put out on BGP).
All in all this is a most collectable series. Only 42 singles - 601001 to 601042. No missing catalogue numbers. No 'demo only' problems. The first few were in a darker blue with later re-pressings (if any) in the lighter, more authentic Stax blue. So, if you're a completist, you may end up with over 50 records in this set. Invest in these now while you can still get good quality copies at reasonable prices. It took me nearly 30 years to track them all down but it was well worth the effort. It'll be much easier now that you have eBay.