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Publisher's Summary

The story of Stax Records unfolds like a Greek tragedy. A white brother and sister build a record company that becomes a monument to racial harmony in 1960’s segregated south Memphis. Their success is startling, and Stax soon defines an international sound. Then, after losses both business and personal, the siblings part, and the brother allies with a visionary African-American partner. Under integrated leadership, Stax explodes as a national player until, Icarus-like, they fall from great heights to a tragic demise. Everything is lost, and the sanctuary that flourished is ripped from the ground. A generation later, Stax is rebuilt brick by brick to once again bring music and opportunity to the people of Memphis.

Set in the world of 1960s and '70s soul music, Respect Yourself is a story of epic heroes in a shady industry. It’s about music and musicians - Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, the Staple Singers, and Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Stax’s interracial house band. It’s about a small independent company’s struggle to survive in a business world of burgeoning conglomerates. And always at the center of the story is Memphis, Tennessee, an explosive city struggling through heated, divisive years.

Told by one of our leading music chroniclers, Respect Yourself brings to life this treasured cultural institution and the city that created it.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2013 Robert Gordon (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  • A. K. Moore
  • 29-10-2014

Great narration

Any additional comments?

I would have preferred a little less of the financial details of the seamy underbelly of the recording industry and lot more musical detail and analysis of the grooves vis a vis the other music of the period - there have been some interviews with Cropper and Art Jackson that could have provided source material for this. That said, the book is well researched and very compelling. It's not trying to be for musicians - it's trying to tell a great story and extrapolate it outward to the history of the civil rights movement and at this it succeeds brilliantly, so I can't ding it down to 4 stars just because I'm a music geek. It does exactly what it sets out to do. It's two concurrent stories - the Stax company and the civil rights movement, seen first through the prism of Memphis (a truly despicable racist disgrace of a city) and then through the personal prism of the many Stax personalities.

Both the author and narrator give the book the feel of a novel although it's non-fiction. The narrator is off the hook - she gives each character a voice and personality and makes the characters 3-dimensional. It's subtle and low-key and it takes a little while for her to ease you into the world of each character but by the end you really what a tremendous performance it is.

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  • Susan
  • 22-06-2014

Really good listen

What did you love best about Respect Yourself?

The behind the scenes view of the record business back in the day, so to speak. I listened to a lot of this company's music growing up and was fascinated by how it started.

What did you like best about this story?

It didn't gloss over a lot, yet didn't try to nail anyone.

What does Cassandra Campbell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I probably wouldn't have read it- not much time to read hard copy these days.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, so much information in the story to absorb, yet it holds you all the way through.

Any additional comments?

Very very good.

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  • ANTHONY THOMPSON
  • 06-06-2019

Great, Very Captivating

I never knew the entire story of STAX Records. We have all know Motown's history.

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  • Bill Staley
  • 16-07-2018

A great American music and business story

The story of the founding of Stax records and the colorblind attitude of its founders is a great story of American business and music. I listened to it all the way through, and then again up to 1972. I wanted to hear all of the music mentioned in the book, and having a streaming music service made that mostly possible. I bought all of the Otis CDs and the one-CD version of the Monterey Pop Festival and I am glad I did. The audio book format is not perfect for following up with the music, because you can't mark the name of the band and song you want to check out, like you could in a hard copy. The good thing about the audio book is that if you listen to the book on your phone, and have a streaming service on it, you can go back and forth smoothly. It makes for a very fun experience.

The narrator is good. She tries hard to give each recurring person a distinct voice.

There is a nice video about the Muscle Shoals studio. I did not view the video based on this book. It seems like there might be an interesting book to be written about the recordings in the 60s at Muscle Shoals, Stax and the NYC studios of Atlantic Records. It seems like there are enough vignettes that would be interesting, without the "building the business" angle. Just a thought.

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  • Janell Nelson
  • 07-03-2018

Our history

What a great review of the success and downfall of Stax records .
After reading or listening to this amazing book please plan a trip to Memphis to visit the Stax Museum.

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  • Paul Brooks
  • 09-01-2018

Definite Must Read

After listening to this book I listen to the Stax music with a whole new respect & a different ear.

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  • Mr Potts
  • 15-05-2019

So good I went to Memphis

I'm a standard issue white skinned Brit. I grew up in the sixties and seventies. At age 10 in 1967 I was given a transistor radio for my birthday. My life had begun. That same year the BBC reorganised from The Home Service (speech and current affairs for the Serious listener), The Light Programme (popular tunes and light entertainment for the ignorant masses), and The Third Programme (for the entertainment of those listening to the Home Service) to Radios 1,2,3 and 4. Radio1 broadcast on 247 on the medium wave band - pretty cool for 1967 (and I doubt almost anyone got it at the time). They played The Hit Parade, and concentrated on The Charts. Radio 2 was for the parents of those listening to Radio1 ("Turn that bloody row off!"), and Radios 3 and 4 were for those who previously tuned in to The Home Service, and the Third Programme. We can ignore them.
The 'Jocks', now on Radio1, had been struggling to be heard on the pirate ships broadcasting off the coast of uk (see 'The Boat That Rocked'), and we're legitimised by the Beeb. They played Pop music - and I loved it. The Beatles had just released Sergeant Pepper, the Byrd's were flying higher, Otis Redding was giving us this new thing :-'Soul', the summer of love was upon us, and my 'Tranny' turned me into a petty larcenist - stealing batteries from the local shop to keep the sounds coming. We in Blighty didn't have multiple charts. We didn't realise we had any culture other than stiff upper lip, so something called Arunbee wouldn't have registered as anything other than 'foreign', and therefore suspect. So only one pop chart, and everyone had to share it. And we all got to hear the hits from the USA, they were just that: Hits. From Motown or Memphis, New York or LA, they were all American hits, and therefore warranted a listen. If we liked it a record would rise, if not it disappeared. We're a quite simple folk. As I grew so did my eclectic musical tastes.
Underpinning it all was the stuff that I learned along the way. The lyrics of so many seemed to be protests. Stevie Wonder's Living for the City part ii was visceral! The injustice of endemic racism, and the societal acceptance of it were horrifying to me. What is wrong with the Americans?! After a while though the sounds of life progressing began to drown out the drone of the issue for me. Then, one day many years later I'm searching for something new to listen to on Audible and I find 'Respect Yourself'. Oh yeah, Staple Singers. Great song. 'The Stax story'. Let's give it a go. To date I have listened to it three times; travelled to Memphis so I can get a sense of what I read. (It's still around.) I spoke to Jacqueline Smith who has held a decades-long continuous protests outside the Lorraine Motel (Where Doctor King was shot) against the - in her eyes - disgusting monetarising of his death through turning the motel into a museum by some profit-grabbing businessmen rather than putting the profits back to a still largely very poor neighbourhood.
I went down Beale, had a great meal in BB King's place whilst listening to two excellent bands - for the cost of a 2 dollar cover charge.
And went to the Stax Museum. I was accompanied on this trip by my wife. She's not as enthusiastic about music and its history as I am. She 'knows what she likes' . I'd rather over done 'promoting' the music thing - especially Stax - and she was less than excited when we arrived. She got out of the vehicle in the carpark - where there are speakers playing some hits. "Oh I like this one" Smile appears. We go in. While paying the smile broadens. "I remember this one". We carry on through. She's on the Soul Train dance floor - shaking it. "This is great music!".
The point of this travellers' reminiscing? My wife - who wouldn't previously have had cause to consider the plight of a massive sub structure of American culture, learned and appreciated the enormous gift to Black America's life that the Stax label became because I had read this book. We toured the Black Experience wherever we found it, talking to everyone we encountered. Our library is enriched by the books we bought. And our awareness of Black Lives mattering is strong. We were never actively racist, but we were equally ignorant of the day to day life of so many. No longer. All due to this book. It's changed my life.

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  • keith
  • 19-01-2021

Legendary soul label

I love these type of books wish there was more I'm up to the time when they was taken over by gulf and western in 1968 some legends on this label e.g. Booker t and the mgs Isaac Hayes a very interesting read it's still going today I could listen again and again like another book I have here comes the night Bert berns life story it's up there with motown

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  • bobbybee
  • 19-08-2019

Wonderful insight

I loved this book. Although only in my mid teens when the likes of Sam and Dave and Otis became big names in the UK I have such fond memories of my elder brother being hooked on the Stax sound that it all rubbed off on me. I’ve been a fan ever since.
This book is a wonderful insight, a great tribute, a historical music masterpiece and a superb listen.
Thanks to everyone involved, particularly Robert Gordon for your thoroughness in ensuring the full story has been told.
Almost in the words of the Staple Singers ‘I have been taken there!’

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  • Navin
  • 27-09-2018

Amazing !!!

Loved every part of it! Tells you how it all started and how they came back with Soul Explosion!

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  • JohnW
  • 11-06-2018

Very good scene setter

I knew we were due to spend a week in Memphis so I downloaded the book. The historical context information about Memphis made our visit to the Civil Rights Museum far more interesting and while I was listening I knew that we would have to visit the studio as it is today.
I think anyone thinking of visiting either (or both) would find this book illuminates the visits.
The narration is so good, yet oddly unobtrusive that I found myself investigating the reader as well!
I was pleased that it seems equal effort was spent on the good times as the bad times and the detail in places was a credit.
Sometimes it seemed almost like a fiction but two weeks after I'd finished listening, we were standing outside at McLemore & College!

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