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Wattstax Reissue


07/20/07
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(PR) In the summer of 1972, Stax Records had an idea that was larger than life. Stax's co-owner, Al Bell, had wanted to expand the soul label's West Coast presence and develop its Stax Films arm. The ideal way to do both was to stage the biggest soul concert in history termed by one former staff member "the black Woodstock" right in the center of South Central Los Angeles, a vast portion of which had been destroyed by fire in the Watts Riots. The concert, called Wattstax, proved a crowning moment for Stax as 112,000 people united at the Los Angeles Coliseum in a spirit of joy, pride and celebration. The resultant movie was a blockbuster and plays to this date in many music film festivals. And now the original two-LP soundtrack has been expanded to three CDs, including material from the original Wattstax album (which sold seven million copies in the SoundScan era alone) as well as from its sequel, Wattstax: The Living Word, along with samplings from Wattstax-related individual artist albums released in 1972-73.

On August 28, Stax Records reactivated by new owner Concord Music Group will release the first domestic reissue of the complete Wattstax soundtrack, housed in a collectible Digipack featuring rare photographs and reproductions of vintage Wattstax-era posters. The package also contains a multi-page booklet on the story of Wattstax by noted soul music historian Rob Bowman. List price is $24.98. Digitally remastered from the original tapes, the package is one of the highlights of Stax's 50th anniversary celebration, which has also featured live concerts, a film to be premiered on PBS, a film festival and an array of reissues and DVDs.

The expanded Wattstax volume features many Stax artists whose careers were surging in the early '70s: namely Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, The Bar-Kays, The Emotions, Albert King, Little Milton, The Rance Allen Group, David Porter, The Soul Children, Mel & Tim, Fredrick Knight, Deborah Manning, Little Sonny and Richard Pryor. The set includes such hits as "Respect Yourself," "I'll Take You There," "Gee Whiz," "Theme from Shaft," "Son of Shaft," "Do The Funky Chicken," "Backfield in Motion," "Knock On Wood," "Steal Away" and more 47 songs in all on three CDs.

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