Stax Records catalogue their iconic history on double LP Soul Explosion

1969 was a year of complete cultural confluence within the American soul music scene.

Now one of the most recognisable labels of the period, Stax Records has taken a cut out of their tumultuous history to bring us Soul Explosion, an incredible schooling in what was an iconic time for soul music in Memphis, Tennessee.

stax records soul explosion
Attendees at the Stax ‘Gettin’ It All Together’ Summit in May 1969. Photo: Wayne Moore

An incredible and iconic snapshot of the world’s greatest soul and blues artists: Soul Explosion is an essential reissue of masterful music from a rich time in history.

1969 was full of apprehension and exploration for Stax Records. Just one year before, the Memphis soul label ended its relationship with musical giant Atlantic Records and in 1967 Stax had endured the death of their biggest star, Otis Redding.

The split from Atlantic allowed them to effectively become an independent musical entity, crafting their own catalogue and vision. Under the guidance of co-owner Al Bell, the label proceeded to rebuild and release an impressive collection of 27 albums and 30 singles in just a handful of months. This period came to be known as the “Soul Explosion”. 

The gamble paid off as the label quickly reaffirmed itself as a soul powerhouse by interweaving grandiose salesmanship, civic responsibility, and the recording arts.

To put it in the fine words of Mr. Albert King, “If you don’t feel this you got a hole in your soul”, a statement that reverberates throughout the album’s entirety.

King’s Cold Feet closes the A-side of LP1 and is dripping with soul, blues and pure, unadulterated feeling. It’s a perfect encapsulation of this snapshot in musical history, a landmark for Stax Record and indeed blues/soul music in general.

As Stax boomed throughout the music industry they landed one of the most powerful debut albums of all time; Albert King’s Born Under A Bad Sign. A staple for all blues fans and a historical feat of raw expression, it would heavily influence the likes of Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix.

Soul Explosion is a world class collection of some of the greatest soul, blues and funk music of all time. Booker T & The MGs, The Bar-Kays, Johnnie Taylor, Ollie & The Nightingales, Albert King, Eddie Floyd, Mad Lads and The Staple Singers feature heavily across the stellar double LP Collection.

Isaac Hayes Performing at the Stax ‘Gettin’ It All Together’ Summit in May 1969. Photo: Wayne Moore

Other iconic cuts such as William Bell & Judy Clay’s Private Number and Southwest F.O.B’s Smell Of Incense elevate the album, providing diversity and insight into the sounds of the time.

The collection is mastered by Craft Recordings and the modern treatment is something truly special. Never before have these songs been heard with such distinct, panned clarity.

Celebrate one of the most influential record labels of all time by immersing yourself in the gritty Southern sounds of Stax Records. Whether you’re a veteran of soul or a newcomer, this collection will provide the perfect tapestry upon which to paint the picture of this incredible time in music.


Soul Explosion is out May 31st via Craft Recordings. Grab your copy here.