RESPECT YOURSELF The Stax Records Story NNNNN STAX/VOLT REVUE Live In Norway 1967 NNNN DREAMS TO REMEMBER The Legacy Of Otis Redding Stax/Concord NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
This being the 40th anniversary of the legendary Stax/Volt Revue of Europe, which announced the ascendency of the powerhouse Memphis indie to the world stage, Concord decided it's time to tell the backstory of the Stax label they're in the process of reviving with three exceptionally great DVDs.
The neatly assembled Respect Yourself documentary, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and making great use of talking-head interview clips with the key players, goes far beyond a straight play-by-play of how string band player Jim Stewart and his schoolteacher sister Estelle Axton (the ST and AX) pieced the label and talent roster together, turning what could've been just another rags-to-riches-to-rags tale into an astute cultural history study.
The Stax/Volt Revue: Live In Norway 1967 DVD presents recently unearthed black-and-white footage from one typically sweat-soaked night in Oslo on the Hit The Road Stax World Conquest tour, boasting hyperactive mini-sets from Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Arthur Conley, the Mar-Keys and Booker T. & the MGs, who are the backing band for the whole show.
This being 1967, everyone on the bill is singing and dancing (Floyd skating back and forth across the stage is hilarious) at the absolute top of their game. Redding tears up the joint at the end and returns for numerous curtain calls.
Redding's all-too-brief career is the focus of Dreams To Remember, which employs a well-chosen selection of live concert footage and interview clips with the musicians, label personnel, friends and observers who knew him best to throw some light on what the Big O accomplished in his five-year rocket ride to popular acclaim.
It's hard to believe that it's taken this long for the first-ever in-depth analysis of Redding's hugely important accomplishments. All three are required viewing for serious soul fans.
EXTRAS Respect Yourself: Stax All-Star Reunion rehearsal in Austin, March 2007. Stax/Volt Review Live In Norway 1967: Green Onions (alternate version) by Booker T & the MGs; Steve Cropper, Wayne Jackson and Rob Bowman commentary, interviews with Jim Stewart, Sam Moore, Wayne Jackson and Steve Cropper. Dreams To Remember: bonus interviews with Cropper and Jackson, image gallery, brief radio interview with Redding.