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http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/elvis-1378492532.jpg Elvis at Stax

Elvis Presley

Elvis at Stax

RCA/Legacy
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
September 9, 2013

Elvis' 1973 sessions at Stax Studio, the Southern-soul crucible in his Memphis hometown, freed him a bit from the biz-y group-think that cheesed-out his later work. The remarkable results, originally scattered across middling LPs, get bundled with illuminating outtakes on this three-CD set. Amid country gems and corn are swaggering gospel funk ("I Got a Feelin' in My Body") and meaty rock & roll (a hit version of Chuck Berry's "Promised Land" that echoes the Grateful Dead's). Had the King lived to work with T Bone Burnett, let alone the Weeknd, who knows?

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    Song Stories

    “Try a Little Tenderness”

    Otis Redding | 1966

    This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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