The Second Disc

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Out Of Control: Light in the Attic Invites You To Axton’s “Late Late Party”

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Light in the Attic is having a party, and you’re invited!  Fresh from the success of Our Lives Are Shaped by What We Love: Motown’s MoWest Story (review here), the label has announced another exciting anthology.  You might not know Charles “Packy” Axton now, but chances are, you’ll want to get to know him.  Born in Memphis, Tennessee into the Stax Records family (his mother Estelle Axton and her brother Jim Stewart founded the Stax label!), “Packy” picked up the saxophone at a young age and continued to make sweet music until his untimely passing in 1974 after an unsuccessful battle with alcohol and his own demons.  The life of “Packy” Axton is celebrated by Light in the Attic with the August 23 release on both CD and vinyl of Late Late Party 1965-1967.  Axton supports such acts as The Martinis, The Pac-Keys, Stacy Lane, The Packers and L.H. and the Memphis Sounds on these seventeen slices of classic Southern soul.

After the jump, we’ll flash back to the formative days of Stax Records circa 1961.  We’ve also got a complete track listing with discographical information waiting for you!

Charles “Packy” Axton may be best remembered as a founding member of the Mar-Keys alongside Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn, two future members of the legendary Booker T and the M.G.’s.  The Mar-Keys had formed in the late 1950s as the Royal Spades, and their immortal groove “Last Night” almost hit the top of the charts in 1961.  But, alas, there wasn’t a lot of harmony offstage, as Cropper and Dunn grew tired of Axton’s wild ways.  They soon departed, leading to the end of the Mar-Keys, and Axton had to wait until 1965 to re-emerge with another instrumental hit.  The song was “Hole in the Wall” and the group was The Packers, a loose aggregation of Axton, Cropper, Booker T. Jones and Al Jackson.

Axton’s mother Estelle was caught in the middle of the acrimony between her son and her partner, Jim Stewart.  Light in the Attic’s press release tells us that “Packy was ostracized from Stax proper through a rift with Stewart because of his casual approach and oft-eccentric ways. Packy preferred hanging out and playing music with local black musicians, something that in the racially tense south, was viewed negatively by some.”  Still, he remained a vital recording force at studios like Royal and Ardent, often with Ardent producer John Fry (of Big Star renown) and accompanied by his old bandmates Cropper, Jones and Teenie Hodges.  The group the Pac-Keys consisted of Axton plus moonlighting members of the Bar-Kays.  Axton’s work during the busy period of 1965-1967 is preserved on the new compilation.

Andrea Lisle has penned lengthy liner notes for Late Late Party, and the booklet also features a number of unpublished photographs.  Both the LP and the CD boast the production values Light in the Attic is known for; the CD is housed in a matte cardstock digipak while the 180-gram vinyl LP arrives in a Stoughton “tip-on” jacket.  Every track has, of course, been remastered.  Lisle may have best summed up Packy’s life and times: “This is music that makes you want to shove the coffee table out of the way and pogo until the cabinets rattle, the pets hide, and your downstairs neighbor threatens to call the cops. The fun begins the moment you drop the needle onto one of Packy’s 45s.”

Late Late Party: 1965-1967 arrives on August 23 from Light in the Attic!

Charles “Packy” Axton, Late Late Party 1965-1967 (Light in the Attic LITA 067, 2011 – CD and LP)

  1. Holiday Cheer – The Martinis
  2. Bullseye – The Martinis
  3. Hung Over – The Martinis
  4. No Ending – Stacy Lane
  5. House Full of Rooms – L.H. and the Memphis Sounds
  6. Stone Fox – The Pac-Keys
  7. Hole in the Wall – The Packers
  8. South American Robot – The Martinis
  9. Dig In – The Pac-Keys
  10. Out of Control – L.H. and the Memphis Sounds
  11. Key Chain – The Martinis
  12. Hip Pocket – The Pac-Keys
  13. I’m a Fool (In Love) – L.H. and the Memphis Sounds
  14. No Love Have I – Stacy Lane
  15. Greasy Pumpkin – The Pac-Keys
  16. I’ll Always Love You – The Martinis
  17. Late Late Party – The Martinis

Written by Joe Marchese

August 11, 2011 at 14:10

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