"After Laughter Comes Tears" compiles Memphis output of Stax/Volt singer Wendy Rene

The Los Angeles Times' Pop & Hiss music blog features today the new anthology After Laughter Comes Tears: Complete Stax & Volt Singles and Rarities, 1964-1965 from unsung Memphis soul singer Wendy Rene.

Listen to Adele and you can hear the sound of Memphis and Muscle
Shoals reinvigorated, but those interested in going back to the source -- Stax Records in Memphis -- would be well advised to check out Wendy
Rene.

If you've heard a Wendy Rene song, it's probably "After Laughter
Comes Tears," which was a minor hit for the Stax subsidiary Volt in 1964
and later resurrected via a classic Wu-Tang Clan sample on the song
"Tearz." Rene was a young Memphis singer when Stax was starting to fly
high in the early 1960s with Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, Sam
& Dave and Rufus & Carla Thomas, and it released a string of
underappreciated Rene gems over a two-year period, all of them collected
on the new "After Laughter Comes Tears."

Seattle-based Light in the Attic Records, which produced the anthology, has more biographical information on Rene, who never quite scored a real smash hit:

Born Mary Frierson in Memphis, Tennessee, home of Stax Records, Wendy
Rene was christened by Otis Redding on signing to Stax as a teenager in
1963. Back then, she and brother Johnny Frierson, both singers at the
Church of God In Christ, were determined to make it in music. Forming
singing quartet The Drapels with two friends, they took the bus to 926
E. McLemore Avenue, auditioned for Stax co-founder Jim Stewart, and won a
deal on the spot.

"As soon as we finished with the Drapels' songs and [the rest of the
band] were going to the bus stop, I showed Mr. Stewart my songs,"
recalls Rene. The result? Stewart found two acts in one, and Mary had
two contracts with Stax.

Then there's this rather spooky anecdote involving Rene's Stax mentor:

Wendy was due to perform one last show with Otis Redding and the
Bar-Kays, but changed her mind at the last minute. It was an auspicious
decision - that weekend, Redding and four Bar-Kays died when their plane
crashed in Lake Monona.

Below are clips of Rene's "After Laughter (Comes Tears)" and the 1993 Wu-Tang Clan song "Tearz," which is built on loops sampled from Rene's single.


3 Comments

Do you have any video of that? I’d love to find out some additional information.

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Deputy Online News Editor Mark Richens takes you through all the news about Memphis from sources outside the Mid-South.