Hardcore R&B Fans Will Dig These Epic New Releases

Stax and Ru-Jac records retrospectives dig deep into the archives..

Album Reviews

Various Artists
Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & the Best of the Rest
Craft Recordings

Various Artists
The Ru-Jac Records Story
Omnivore

The great Memphis soul music label Stax has been extensively surveyed in three box sets collecting the A-sides of the company’s singles, from its humble beginnings in 1959 to a messy demise in 1975. But that’s only part of the story. Gathering 155 other tracks, Rarities & the Best of the Rest goes far beyond the classic hits of Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Isaac Hayes, with three discs of prime R&B B-sides and three more full of recordings from Stax offshoot labels that ventured into other genres, occasionally producing great music and sometimes coughing up duds. The Enterprise label offered everything from country (O.B. McClinton) and funky rock (Don Nix) to easy listening (Billy Eckstine) and jazz (Chico Hamilton). The Ardent and Hip labels featured girl groups (The Goodees), power pop (the immortal Big Star), and flat-out weirdness (The Honey Jug). Chalice and The Gospel Truth labels focused on songs of faith (The Dixie Hummingbirds). If this deep dig is primarily for archivists, plenty of pleasant surprises await patient explorers.

In contrast to the titanic legacy of Stax, Baltimore’s tiny, underfunded Ru-Jac Records had virtually no impact on the R&B scene, though it was responsible for some fine music. Presenting 100 tracks on four separate volumes spanning the years from 1963 to 1980, The Ru-Jac Records Story celebrates obscure standouts like Brenda Jones, Winfield Parker, and Gene & Eddie—all of whom could have become stars in happier circumstances. The biggest name here is Arthur Conley, who went on to work with Otis Redding after leaving the label. Ru-Jac may have been a commercial failure, but its best singles were creative triumphs that still sizzle today.

GREAT JOURNALISM, SLOW FUNDRAISING

Our team has been on fire lately—publishing sweeping, one-of-a-kind investigations, ambitious, groundbreaking projects, and even releasing “the holy shit documentary of the year.” And that’s on top of protecting free and fair elections and standing up to bullies and BS when others in the media don’t.

Yet, we just came up pretty short on our first big fundraising campaign since Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting joined forces.

So, two things:

1) If you value the journalism we do but haven’t pitched in over the last few months, please consider doing so now—we urgently need a lot of help to make up for lost ground.

2) If you’re not ready to donate but you’re interested enough in our work to be reading this, please consider signing up for our free Mother Jones Daily newsletter to get to know us and our reporting better. Maybe once you do, you’ll see it’s something worth supporting.

payment methods

GREAT JOURNALISM, SLOW FUNDRAISING

Our team has been on fire lately—publishing sweeping, one-of-a-kind investigations, ambitious, groundbreaking projects, and even releasing “the holy shit documentary of the year.” And that’s on top of protecting free and fair elections and standing up to bullies and BS when others in the media don’t.

Yet, we just came up pretty short on our first big fundraising campaign since Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting joined forces.

So, two things:

1) If you value the journalism we do but haven’t pitched in over the last few months, please consider doing so now—we urgently need a lot of help to make up for lost ground.

2) If you’re not ready to donate but you’re interested enough in our work to be reading this, please consider signing up for our free Mother Jones Daily newsletter to get to know us and our reporting better. Maybe once you do, you’ll see it’s something worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate