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Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records
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Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  124 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Walk the halls of the famous studio that produced hits for Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Booker T. and the MGs. Provides the first history of the groundbreaking label.
Paperback, 402 pages
Published December 22nd 2000 by Schirmer Trade Books (first published January 1st 1997)
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Ben Winch
I was playing Wilson Pickett in the store one day when a young guy remarked that he 'loved Motown', and it sent me into a spin. Wilson Pickett Motown?! What does that mean, that every poppy/soulful dance-hit of the 1960s is Motown these days? Well I'm here to tell you, apart from the technical error - that Motown was, as I thought everyone knew, based in Detroit (the motor town, geddit?) and Wilson Pickett recorded in New York and Memphis - there's another, deeper error: Wilson Pickett doesn't s ...more
This book is not for the casual or newbie fan of Stax. It's exhaustive and tediously detailed. Bowman gives each new artist of significance a mini-background history as they come up in the label's timeline. He rightly includes a lot about how segregation and race in Stax's hometown, Memphis (MLK was assassinated there in '68 at a motel that Stax songwriters used all the time), shaped the label and its people, and Bowman even goes into detail about all the legal matters of Stax, including from be ...more
A fascinating read for any Memphian or fan of Stax. It's extremely in depth and comprehensive, which means there's a lot of great stories and info, but it can also be tough to dig through. It's not purely about music; it covers the personal back stories of many artists and staff, and also gives insight to the cultural climate of Memphis in the 60s and 70s, and even to the business details of operating Stax.
Bill Jackson
An excellent history of the STAX label from boom to bust. More for the hardcore STAX fan than the casual consumer, this book lets it all hang out when it comes to giving the scoop on the dealings between Jerry Wexler, Jim Stewart, and Al Bell. It gives a good play-by-play account of the demise of what was without a doubt one of the best southern studios of the time. Honestly, at times you'll find yourself angry at the way STAX was handled by the big record executives in New York, and then find y ...more
Jeff Ballew
Aug 17, 2009 Jeff Ballew rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of soul
An incredibly in depth look at Stax records, the house of soul, the home of the "Memphis sound." It follows the record label from a small family operation to an international powerhouse, to a bankrupt operation bringing everyone down with it.

This is a dense book, and I wouldn't recommend it to you unless you get really excited by the following links...

Otis Redding -
Sam & Dave -
Book T & the MGs - http://www.
Andy Knaggs
Hard to imagine anyone could write a more comprehensive history of the legendary soul music label, its triumphs and eventual demise. Couldn't recommend it for everyone - it helps if you have a decent knowledge of the music of Stax's leading acts in the first place. Even then, Mr Bowman's encylopaedic knowledge of soul music left me in the dust. Interesting stuff towards the end about the financial debacle that brought the label to its knees as well. It's not an introduction to Stax, I would sugg ...more
Aug 31, 2009 Brian is currently reading it
I'm about a third of the way through the book... it's an easy to pick up, easy to put down, read a chunk at a time book You needn't be a music nut or fan to enjoy this..... one of the more interesting things so far, is the de facto discussions of race relations in in Memphis in the late 50s and early 60s. Stax was located in a predominantly black area, and was a company run with blacks and whites working side by side in a decidely non-integrated time and place
Getting into Stax a lot as I get older, and find that whole Memphis scene tragically under-appreciated. This is definitely a book for fans of the genre, very detailed and specific focusing more on the business-related aspects (probably to save on the length) so it's a long, and not always page-turning read. Still, this book is being called a reference "go-to" for Stax, and it's impressive and worth having in a serious fan's library.
I found a remaindered copy online. The first Stax/Volt singles collection change my life, and Rob Bowman wrote the liner notes for that collection and each of the subsequent two volumes. In this book, he follows the Stax story through its rise and ensuing tragedies. It is probably only of interest to soul fans, but for them, it is absolutely essential.
Great in-depth history of Stax. Sometimes it glossed over topics I wanted to know more about, but overall it was fantastic. The 1960s at Stax seemed awesome. The 70s sounded like they tried to do way too much.

*Also found it odd to find the author inserting himself every now and then with a personal observation about music or whatever.
Colin O'Hara
The most detailed history imaginable of one of my favorite record labels of all time, Stax Records. Not for the light-hearted, this almost day-by-day account of the rise and fall of Stax is fascinating for fans of early soul music.
Bowman is the expert on all things Stax. This is more of a business book than a biography of all the great artists on the Stax roster.
I would have liked to read more on the creative processes of the artists.
I've picked this one up a couple of times. A good book on the history of Stax & Memphis Soul. Check out Bear Family Records for a more complete history of Memphis soul beyond Stax!
Joy Idowu
a comprehensive look at the creation of stax
a great look at the other great label of the 60s
captain america
fantastic detail but an extremely dense read.
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