1 February 2012
155 minutes, 2007
The rise and fall of Memphis-based "Stax Records" remains one of the more compelling sagas in American popular music history. Founded in 1957 as "Satellite Records", renamed in 1961 by blending the surnames of brother-sister co-founders "Jim Stewart" and "Estelle Axton", Stax was Motown's funky Deep South counterpart. From its loose atmosphere came giants, including "Otis Redding", "Rufus Thomas" and daughter Carla, "Booker T and The M.G.'s", "Eddie Floyd", "Sam and Dave", "Albert King", "Isaac Hayes", and "The Bar-Kays".
Recording in a converted movie theater, the earthy results were often as stunning and transcendent as anything from the equally loose "Sun Records" across town or Motown itself. While celebrating Stax, its triumphs and the genius of its artists and musicians, the documentary doesn't shy away from the label's woes, like unexamined fine print that gave "Atlantic Records", who distributed Stax, the rights to classic Stax masters.
While it resurged following its sale, through the successes of "Isaac Hayes", the Shaft soundtrack and legendary Wattstax show, those triumphs were a prelude to the label's final, ugly collapse. The redemption comes by detailing Stax's legacy into the 21st century. The DVD extra consists of rehearsal footage from the rehearsals for a Stax reunion show.