stax record

Baby Driver.

My favorite movie of the year so far. Pure. Cinema. 

I’ll write something for real but this is just me yammering my thoughts. I will avoid spoilers.

Realism is for suckers. 

It is so fucking in love with being a movie. Joy. Car chases filmed as poetry. Music as soul and pulse, Baby Driver’s heart is old Soul records from Stax and diners at 2am. Sincerity and softness expressed in a masculine genre, of all the shitty anti-heroes we get, it is nice to see someone who is nice? Who makes dinner for his Dad?. A crime film filmed like a classic musical. Stylization that inform character and theme. The camera moves like a dancer. I haven’t seen a movie so in love with music and how much that love pops off the frame and isn’t afraid of how sappy it can make us. The real cars being driven for real doing real stunts are amazing. The film is earnest and wears its heart on its sleeve in an era of cool cynicism. It makes me believe in the magic of cinema I felt as a child can still be found as a “seen it all” adult. I hope you see it on the big screen nice and loud and feel some of the joy I felt and if you don’t, we are two very different people. 

It 100% deserves the best editing oscar. 

Fuckkkkk that scene set to The Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat”

A certain scene of violence. 

That steadycam shot during the opening credits. 

The use of color during the final action scene. 

The first film I can remember being nostalgic for iPods.

The hidden cuts during the foot chase scene!

How good the blocking and compositions are!

I am sucker for stories about found families. 

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On this day in music history: July 26, 1986 - “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Peter Gabriel, it is the biggest hit for the British singer and songwriter. Influenced by 60’s soul music, especially the Memphis soul sound pioneered by Stax Records, Gabriel hires the Memphis Horns (Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson) to play on the track, as well as features former Ikette P.P. Arnold, Dee Lewis and Coral Gordon on background vocals. Other musicians including Tony Levin (bass), Manu Katche (drums), and David Rhodes (guitar) also play on the track. The songs highly innovative and award winning music video directed by Stephen R. Johnson (“Pee Wee’s Playhouse”) also features contributions from the Aardman Animation Studio (“Wallace & Gromit”) and the Brothers Quay. Filmed using a stop motion technique in which Gabriel’s movements and lip synch are filmed one frame at at a time while lying on his back, under a sheet of plate glass for up to sixteen hours a day for eight days. The process is painstaking and slow, and the clip takes over a month to complete. Released as the first single from Gabriel’s fifth studio album “So” in April of 1986, “Sledgehammer” becomes an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on May 10, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The video for “Sledgehammer” wins an unprecedented nine MTV VMA awards (still the record holder for the most wins in a single year), and by 2011 becomes the most played clip in the history of the channel.

Behave Yourself
Booker T. & The MG's
Behave Yourself

Stax wouldn’t have been the great soul/funk record label without the powerful house band Booker T and the MGs. They backed up pretty much all of the talent at Stax and cut plenty of hits themselves. While “Green Onions” really put Stax and Booker T on the map, there are tons of instrumental tunes they put out that are just as good. 

Behave Yourself” has a light, jazz sound that you wouldn’t really associate with the MGs. But they pull it off wonderfully… with some of Booker T’s best organ work being laid down.

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On this day in music history: February 23, 1968 - “The Dock Of The Bay”, the sixth album by Otis Redding is released. Produced by Steve Cropper, it is recorded at Stax Studios in Memphis, TN from July 11, 1965 - December 8, 1967. The first posthumous release from the legendary R&B vocalist features tracks from his final recording sessions cut just two days before his death, combined with unreleased material that dates as far back as 1965. The album also includes the hugely successful title track “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” which becomes a posthumous number one single on the pop and R&B singles chart in March of 1968. “The Dock Of The Bay” spends three weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number four on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 6, 1972 - “I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Singers hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 1 week on June 3, 1972. Written and produced by Alvertis “Al” Bell, it is the biggest hit for the Chicago, IL based R&B and gospel family group. Bell, the president of Stax Records is inspired to write the song after attending the funeral of his younger brother. The track is cut with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section at Muscle Shoals Sound in Alabama in late 1971. Issued as the follow up to “Respect Yourself” (#2 R&B, #12 Pop) in February of 1972, the single becomes an immediate hit on the R&B chart, quickly crossing over to the pop chart. “I’ll Take You There” is covered by a number of different artists over the years including SWV, Kelly Price, General Public and Robert Randolph & The Family Band. The Staple Singers original version of “I’ll Take You There” is also featured in the films “Children Of A Lesser God”, “Barber Shop” and “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed And Fabulous”. “I’ll Take You There” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.