Sunday, 25 November 2012

Charles Packy Axton - Late Late Party 1965-67

Mighty Memphis soul. Forgotten sax hero's first and long overdue anthology.

You may not have heard of Charles Packy Axton, though things could, and should have been so different. Born into the all conquering soul dynasty of Memphis based Stax Records, (Packy's mother Estelle Axton and his uncle Jim Stewart were the label founders), he was perfectly placed and talented enough to have capitalised on his advantageous position. Packy took up the saxophone at a young age and formed The Royal Spades, with Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn, both later to have greater success as members of Booker T & The MG's, the legendary Stax house band. The Royal Spades became The Mar-Keys. Axton's partying was to eventually cause a split with the band along with a career damaging rift with Stax Records.

Axton continued to record though and had a national hit with 1965's “Hole In The Wall”, credited to The Packers is basically Booker T. And The MG's in all but name, featuring Axton, Cropper, Booker T, and drummer Al Jackson. Only bassist Dunn is missing from the line-up. It's at the heart of this new compilation which features seventeen mainly instrumental tracks.

Click over the jump for more on Late Late Party 1965-67.
All have that authentic southern R&B grit for which 60's Memphis is so famous for, the trademark Stax sound in all but name. Interestingly there are a few added ingredients to the soulful stew. The Martinis' “South American Robot” has a proto-latin rock feel to it, a couple of years before Santana would take such a sound to a global audience. “Hip Pocket” by The Pac-Keys is a slow blues soul fusion complete with that rarest of musical treats - a kazoo solo.

Though there's nothing on the album quite up there with the best of Booker T & The MG's work, it isn't far off and most of the tracks offer that same upbeat soul party vibe. By 1967 Packy all but stopped recording and ran the Satellite Record Store in Memphis. The party continued however and it was his love of partying and alcohol in particular led to a tragically early death at the age of 32 in 1974.

This compilation is out on Light In The Attic Records so you know the packaging and attention to detail will be spot on. Soul fans looking for something off the beaten path, search no more.

Click here for Light In The Attic Records' website.