Cover artwork for Stax Country
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Los Angeles, Calif   ̶  Craft Recordings, the catalog division of Concord Music Group, is pleased to announce the forthcoming release of Stax Country, a collection of rare and unreleased country songs, recorded in the early-mid 1970s for the Memphis label. Due out October 20th, the album will be available on vinyl and CD, as well as across all digital and streaming platforms, and will include new liner notes by author Colin Escott, who has not only chronicled the stories of Hank Williams, Sun Records and the Grand Ole Opry, but also co-wrote the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet. Stax Country comes as part of an extensive 60th anniversary celebration of the iconic soul label, taking place throughout 2017.
Primarily known as a soul outfit, Stax often made efforts to diversify, with signings in rock, blues and country music, the latter of which wasn't a stretch for the Memphis label: Stax's cofounder Jim Stewart was a fiddle player himself, who began his career in the genre; while Nashville  ̶  the mecca of country music  ̶  was just a mere three hours away.  The label cast a wide net to find the next big voice in country music, but the results were lukewarm. In his liner notes, Escott confirms, "Indies had never broken the major labels' hammerlock on country for long. Smaller labels nibbled around the lower reaches of the charts, sometimes even pushing a record or two to the top, but year-in, year-out, the majors owned country music. Stax was neither the first nor last label to discover that."
Stax Country offers a diverse crew of artists, many of whom led colorful lives, but never found great success in the music industry. For his extensive liner notes, Colin Escott dove deep into Memphis lore to chronicle the stories of these musicians, many of whom faded quickly into obscurity. O.B. McClinton was perhaps the most successful of the bunch. McClinton became known to Stax as a songwriter, penning R&B tracks for Otis Redding, the Staple Singers and James Carr, and signed his own deal to Stax as a country act in 1971. McClinton, who covers Jim Weatherly's "Finer Things in Life" on this compilation, went on to record for several major country labels, though never found wide success in the genre. Another highlight artist on Stax Country is Connie Eaton, the daughter of The Grand Ole Opry's Brian Eaton, and a runner up at the 1968 Miss Nashville pageant, who scored several minor hits on the country charts throughout the late '60s to mid '70s, not including those she recorded for Stax, unfortunately. Roger Hallmark, who penned "Truck Driver's Heaven" was, incidentally, a truck driver, as well as a former bassist for '60s teen idol Brian Hyland, who had a penchant for writing controversial lyrics and songs about football. Memphis rockabilly singer Eddie Bond was a local character, who, according to Escott's notes, "was a boundless opportunist...Running the local Hi-Hat nightclub in 1954, he reportedly told Elvis Presley to go back to driving a truck."
Although the majority of the songs included on Stax Country never made it to the radio waves, let alone store shelves, the tracks collected on this album stand as long-lost gems, recorded during the heyday of '70s Countrypolitan, while the stories of these artists, many of whom are long forgotten, weave a tale worthy of any country ballad.
Pre-order Stax Country on vinyl or CD:
Side A:
1. Becki Bluefield - Sweet Country Music
2. Eddie Bond - That Glass
3. Joyce Cobb - Your Love
4. Paul Craft - For Linda (Child In The Cradle)
5. O.B. McClinton - The Finer Things In Life
6. Karen Casey - The River's Too Wide
7. Roland Eaton - Hippie From The Hills
8. Connie Eaton - I Wanna Be Wrong Right Now
Side B:
1. Cliff Cochran - All The Love You'll Ever Need
2. Paige O'Brian - Satisfied Woman
3. Danny Bryan - My Girl
4. Daaron Lee - Long Black Train
5. Frank Hobson & Becky Durning - A Truer Love You'll Never Find
6. Roger Hallmark - Truck Driver's Heaven
7. Dale Yard - Purple Cow
8. Lee Denson - A Mom And A Dad For Christmas
1. Becki Bluefield - Sweet Country Music
2. Eddie Bond - That Glass
3. Joyce Cobb - Your Love
4. Paul Craft - For Linda (Child In The Cradle)
5. O.B. McClinton - The Finer Things In Life
6. Karen Casey - The River's Too Wide
7. Roland Eaton - Hippy From The Hills
8. Connie Eaton - I Wanna Be Wrong Right Now
9. Cliff Cochran - All The Love You'll Ever Need
10. Paige O'Brian - Satisfied Woman
11. Danny Bryan - My Girl
12.    Daaron Lee - Long Black Train
13. Frank Hobson & Becky Durning - A Truer Love You'll Never Find
14. Roger Hallmark - Truck Driver's Heaven
15. Dale Yard - Purple Cow
16. Lee Denson - A Mom And A Dad For Christmas
About Stax 60: The 60th anniversary of the legendary soul label Stax Records commemorates its extraordinary legacy as an international hit-making machine and its indispensable chapter in American musical history as an integrated company in the heart of the Civil Rights movement. The Stax 60 celebration will highlight the hits, deep cuts and rare tracks from the Memphis label's heyday of the '60s and '70s, including the many legendary artists who jointly created the world-renown "Stax sound": Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MG's, Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Sam & Dave, the Dramatics and many more. The Stax 60 campaign will honor the music from Soulsville USA through curated collections, deluxe box sets, hi-resolution audio, streaming playlists and unique vinyl initiatives.
About Craft Recordings: Craft Recordings is home to one of the largest and most prestigious collections of master recordings and compositions in the world. Its rich and storied repertoire includes legendary artists such as R.E.M., Traveling Wilburys, Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Bill Evans, Little Richard, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, John Lee Hooker, Evanescence and Nine Inch Nails, to name just a few.  Renowned label imprints with catalogs issued under the Craft banner include Concord, Fantasy, Rounder, Stax, Milestone, Prestige, Riverside, Specialty, Sugar Hill, Vanguard and Vee-Jay Records, among many others.
Craft creates thoughtfully curated, comprehensive packages, with a meticulous devotion to quality and a commitment to preservation. As part of this process, Craft avidly partners with artists and estates to uphold and enhance the catalog's musical heritage, ensuring that these recordings endure for new generations to discover. Craft Recordings is the catalog division of Concord Music.
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