Tag Archives: 2010

Rocks In The Attic #594: Manic Street Preachers – ‘Postcards From A Young Man’ (2010)

RITA#594
I’m pretty sure the Manics have been making the same album over and over again since – at least – This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. The first four albums all sounded different than the ones that went before them, for better or for worse, but from album number five they seemed to reach a level of complacency that has also seen them become darlings of BBC’s Radio Two.

The finger pointing usually goes to the disappearance of Richey Edwards – what band wouldn’t be affected by this? – and I find myself blaming his absence like everybody else. To be fair, I haven’t heard 2009’s Journal For Plague Lovers, the record written using posthumous lyrics by Edwards. I want it to be great, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to ever hear that record, just in case it’s terrible. It’s the same fear that’s kept me from watching the DVD of To Catch A Thief that I bought 15 years ago, because it’s the only film from Hitchcock’s golden period of the 1950s that I haven’t seen.

The one thing in the last couple of years that really killed the Manics for me was seeing the music video for their song Together Stronger. Subtitled ‘(C’Mon Wales)’, this was the official song of the Wales football team for the 2016 European Championships. What were once angry young men…

The Super Furry Animals’ unofficial Bing Bong was a better song anyway…

Hit: (It’s Not War) Just The End Of Love

Hidden Gem: Auto-Intoxication

Rocks In The Attic #474: Various Artists – ‘Stax – Number Ones’ (2010)

RITA#474Stax Records: my favourite record label, hands down. Grittier than Motown, a talent pool for Atlantic, and a tale of a rags to riches underdog in a socially conscious and racially integrated framework, Stax has got it all. The 2007 documentary (Respect Yourself: The Stax Record Story) is essential viewing, but I’m waiting for the big budget Hollywood film to tell the story. Idris Elba as Otis Redding, anyone?

Brother and Sister Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton started a country label, called Satellite Records, out of their garage in the late 1950s, but it was when they started recording R&B and changed their name to Stax that they got the attention of Atlantic Records, who picked them up with a distribution deal.

Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd, The Staple Singers, and of course, the Stax house band Booker T. & The M.G.s.; the label’s roll-call read like a who’s who of ‘60s and ‘70s soul acts. There’s something there for everyone, and a bunch of great number one hit singles, as this collection attests.

The Atlantic partnership proved to be the best and worst thing to happen to Stax though, and this is why it would be great subject material for a film. By distributing their records, and sometimes using the Stax studios to record artists on their own label, Atlantic acted as a protective big brother to Stax; but not for long.

In 1967, Atlantic was sold to Warners, and Stax fell by the wayside. Jim Stewart asked for the return of the Stax masters, but found out that Atlantic’s cuntish lawyers had included a clause in the 1965 distribution contract that gave away the rights to the Stax material to Atantic. Betrayed by his more savvy business partners and by his own naivety, Stewart eventually drove Stax into bankruptcy after a few short years as an independent. Such a shame.

I can’t remember the first time I heard about Stax. It was probably through my Dad, who has a great compilation – Atlantic Soul Classics – which captures (exploits?) a couple of acts from the Stax roster. I’ve since picked up that album on vinyl. After that, it was probably going back and discovering Booker T. & The M.G.s via the Blues Brothers. Good times.

Hit: (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding

Hidden Gem: Who’s Making Love – Johnnie Taylor