Liner Note Author: Ian Levine.
Photographer: Rob Finnis.
Ace's 2015 compilation Solid Stax Sensations was assembled by Ian Levine, a British DJ who first made his name as a soul collector when he compiled Solid Soul Sensations for Pye Records in 1974. As the title suggests, this disc focuses directly upon the deep vaults of Stax and its associated labels, including not only Volt but also Enterprise and Gospel Truth. Occasionally, Levine digs out an LP cut, and Sylvia & the Blue Jays' "Put Me in the Mood" is previously unreleased, but by and large these are the kinds of rare singles that drive record collectors crazy, particularly record collectors of the British stripe. This distinction is important: Levine favors not the down-and-dirty, gritty grinds Americans associate with Stax, but the nimble, funky, and smooth groove of Northern Soul. So slick are the sounds of Solid Stax Sensations that William Bell, as deep a soul singer as there ever was, is represented by the gossamer proto-disco of "The Man in the Street." Far from being a detriment, this emphasis on the lush yet danceable side of Stax turns this compilation into a rare delight: not only are the tracks themselves hard to find, but as a collection, it reveals the depths of Stax many of its greatest fans may not be familiar with. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine