Written in Their Soul – The Stacks Songwriter Demos – CD Box Set

Unboxing the Soul: A Review of “Written in Their Soul – The Stacks Songwriter Demos” Box Set

This is something truly special for fans of soul music and the Stax Records label. If you’re a collector of unique recordings or simply appreciate the historic significance of soul music, you’ll want to get your hands on the “Written in Their Soul – The Stacks Songwriter Demos” box set by Craft Recordings.

Inside the Box

This 7-CD set features an incredible 146 songwriter demos and arrangements from the legendary Stax Record Studios. What makes it even more intriguing is that 140 of these recordings have never been released before! You’ll find contributions from legends like Carla Thomas, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Homer Banks, Bettye Crutcher, Rufus Thomas, Frederick Knight, Booker T. Jones, and more.

Accompanying the CDs is a 50-page book filled with rare photographs from the Stax archives. It also includes liner notes from Emmy award winner Deanie Parker and Emmy and Grammy Award winner Robert Gordon. The design of the box set is as impressive as its contents, reminiscent of the quality seen in the Judie Tzuke Box Set I reviewed earlier.

A Labor of Love

The collection is impeccably put together and exudes passion and dedication. Alongside the discs, you’ll discover beautiful photographs, captivating stories, and memorabilia that will take you on a journey through the history of Stax Records.

The CDs are housed in an elegant top system where they click into place, with detailed summaries on the back that provide an insight into each track. It’s evident that this box set is a treasure trove of musical words, photographs, and an absolute must-have for fans of 60s and 70s soul, R&B, and even rock music.

Beyond Demos

Don’t be fooled by the term “demos.” While some might expect rough sketches of the songs, these recordings are immaculate. They reflect the world of Stax, Talamotone, and Philadelphia music at its finest. Many of these demos were recorded by male writers emulating female stars or vice versa, creating unique and engaging interpretations.

Perhaps only one or two tracks have a “demo-type” feel; the rest are produced to near perfection. It’s like listening to the original songwriter sing the songs they crafted with a heartfelt connection. A comparison might be made to listening to Jim Steinman sing the songs made famous by Meatloaf, lending them a different edge and raw emotional feeling.

Conclusion

“Written in Their Soul” is more than just a collection of songs; it’s a glimpse into the creative process of some of soul music’s most talented writers. From the design of the box set to the selection of tracks, Craft Recordings have truly done a remarkable job.

If you’re a fan of Stax or soul music in general, don’t miss this weighty tome of musical excellence. You can feel the heart and imagination behind each song. It’s out now, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine

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