In the vast netherworld of soul there are countless characters that reside on the fringe, their significant contributions to American music history long forgotten. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, tenor saxophone player and bandleader Charles ‘Packy’ Axton is yet another of the uncelebrated, despite a deep pedigree and funky catalogue of notable grooves. Part of the mighty Stax family through birth—Packy’s mother Estelle Axton and uncle Jim Stewart founded the southern R&B dynasty in the early 1960’s—Packy picked up the sax at a young age, and after linking with future Booker T. & the M.G.’s Steve Cropper and Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, formed the The Mar-Keys. Almost reaching the top of the R&B and pop charts in 1961 with the classic “Last Night,” friction caused by Packy’s party going ways caused a split. It wasn’t until 1965 that the wild child had another national instrumental hit on his hands, “Hole In The Wall” by the Packers, chronicled by Light In The Attic Records in the first ever anthology of Axton’s work: Late Late Party 1965-67.
Despite the loving support of his musically minded mother, 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, throughout the mid-1960’s, Packy recorded a series of hard, short, and down home R&B stompers at Royal and Ardent Recording Studios by heavyweight producer John Fry (Big Star, Isaac Hayes, Ry Cooder), accompanied by legendary Stax and Hi Records dynamos Steve Cropper, Booker T., and Teenie Hodges (Al Green, Ann Peebles, Syl Johnson). Featuring songs released on labels such as Bar Records, Hollywood, Pure Soul Music, and U.S.A. Records (not to mention several unreleased gems) Late Late Party 1965-67 includes seventeen powerful instrumental and vocal tracks for your listening pleasure. Supplemented by Memphis-writer Andria Lisle’s extensive liner notes, unpublished photographs, and featuring lovingly remastered audio, Late Late Party is shines a light on an overlooked part of the Stax story. Essential listening.
For more info, audio samples and to pre-order Charles ‘Packy’ Axton Late Late Party 1965-67 (LITA 067 -CD|LP+Download Card for Unreleased Track|DIGITAL), click HERE!