Memphis is one of the great music cities. So many great artists and so many great labels have emerged from there down the years that the history of rock’n’roll and soul and R&B would be very different without them. Sun, Stax and Hi are the labels that define Memphis, but not far behind is our very own Goldwax, who in James Carr, Spencer Wiggins and the Ovations had their own trio of great artists. Since Ace bought Goldwax nearly a decade ago the major artists have all been treated well, with at least a CD of their recordings each, and in the case of James Carr, four CDs rounding up every single bit of his recording career. There has also been two label overviews that have helped to throw light on some of the lesser acts, as well as the stars and the sought after rarities. However labels are complex affairs and their stories are sometimes difficult to cover fully in the short-form. With this in mind we have taken on the herculean task of compiling ‘The Complete Goldwax Singles’ which allows us to present to you the A and B sides of every single 45 on the label or produced by the label or its principles. This takes us into areas that you wouldn’t meet ordinarily and allows us to provide you with some excrutiatingly rare records.
Goldwax was started in late 1963 by Doc Russell and Quinton Claunch, although our compilation lets us take a step back and include three earlier Quinton produced 45s on his own Bingo and Beale Street labels that form the true genesis of the label. These are just the first of many titles that are seeing their first ever legal reissue across these volumes including one side of our cover star Philip and The Faithfuls one single on the label – and the one that has proved itself to be the rarest of them all. Amongst the obscurities and the rarities we are sure that you will find yourself an especial favourite that you have never heard before, be it a storming instrumental such as the Playboy Five’s ‘Spoonful’, the Arthur Alexander take-off of Oboe’s first single ‘Mother-In-Law Trouble’ or even one of the pop or country records that sporadically appeared on the label.
However it is not just about what you have heard before. The chronolgical nature of this compilation allows you not just to watch the careers of, say, James Carr or Spencer Wiggins unfold, but more acurately Memphis music, as R&B slowly moves into soul which then develops a distinctly southern nature as time passes. It is perhaps easier to see this progress with a mid-size label like Goldwax than with a behemoth like Stax where weight of numbers obscured the changes.
It has to be remembered of course that Volume 1, however great, is just the first stirrings, the roots, as it were. The golden age is still to come, but this is still a pretty great start.
By Dean Rudland