Pioneering rare soul DJ Ian Levine chooses 25 of his favourite Stax/Volt soulful movers.
Most people on the soul scene know of Ian Levine’s youthful obsession with Motown and Detroit soul in general, and how it led to a 45-year (and counting) career as a tireless promoter of the music he loved as a teenager – whether behind record decks or, in more recent times, as a successful songwriter-producer. Less well known is the fact that the young Ian was almost as obsessive about Stax Records, collecting the blue and yellow Stax era 45s and those on the company’s many subsidiaries with the same level of single-minded intensity that he applied to acquiring rare gems on obscure Detroit labels.
I’ve known Ian since 1969. We met by chance in the Soul City record shop and immediately established a bond of friendship that has continued unbroken ever since. As far as I am concerned, my good friend Ian will always be a man with the most extraordinary passion for soul music, and a lifelong desire to share that passion with others.
When I first visited Ian’s family home in Blackpool in 1970, the broom cupboard-sized space that doubled as his record room boasted a wall full of obscure Stax-related 45s that he was as excited for me to hear as anything else in his already-formidable collection. I stayed for a week, and while I was there every day brought packages containing fresh new obscurities from the Memphis-based company.
I vividly recall that Reggie Milner’s ‘Habit Forming Love’ and the Stingers’ ‘I Refuse To Be Lonely’ were two 45s that Ian and I both heard for the first time during that memorable visit. 45 years later, they are among the selections he has chosen to include in “Solid Stax Sensations”, his first ever compilation for any Ace label and an essential purchase for anyone with an interest in the up-tempo side of Stax.
Many of Ian’s 25 choices are well known floor-fillers via the extensive play they have received from discerning DJs down the decades, but he’s also chosen a pile of lesser-known and equally great sides that deserve to be part of every soul DJ’s playlist. Ian’s notes fully convey the pleasure he still gets from this music after all this time.