It’s Friday night. You come home late after a hard day at work. The house is dark. You close the door and stand in the hallway, exhausted but restless. You know you won’t be able to sleep if you try. You need to unwind, to laugh, to be with friends, to forget your troubles for a while. You wonder aimlessly around the empty house. You’re unsure of what to do, who to call, who will still be awake. The glint of a record sleeve catches your eye.

Three friends stand on a street corner, waiting. They look like they have travelled from a different time, a distant time, a time before life suddenly became complicated. They’re dressed to kill, they have somewhere to go, but they’ve been waiting for you to arrive. You close your eyes and let them lead you down the street to the Late Late Party. The room is tiny, the lights are dim and the music is loud.

You look around - there are seventeen people packed together and dancing. They seem united by a look of supreme bliss, but they’re all in varying states: there’s the young man, the spitting image of Keith Richards, who arrived just before you (‘Key Chain’). He’s bursting with a juvenile, riotous energy and lust for life. Next to him is an older, slightly greying gentleman resembling Wilson Pickett who seems to have been partying for a long time but is showing no signs of slowing down (‘No Ending’). In the opposite corner of the room is a girl who looks as though she was the first to arrive. Her hair is cut like Jim Morrison’s, and she has the end-of-the-night, serene, mellow mood about her (‘Hung Over’). In the dim light of the room, all movement seem to blur and kaleidoscope into a single feeling of overwhelming joy. You come to a realisation watching these different characters all agreeing on the same thing in the same tiny room: this is as close to Nirvana as you’re ever going to be.

A saxophonist, songwriter and band leader, Charles ‘Packy’ Axton’s story contains all of the ingredients required to create an icon: he was a friend and band mate of the legendary Steve Cropper and Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn (later of Booker T. & the M.G.’s), his mother was a founder of Stax Records, and he tragically died of alcoholism at the age of thirty two. However, somehow he avoided canonisation, and until now Axton’s work and influence have remained relatively unknown.

Astonishingly, Late Late Party is the first ever anthology dedicated entirely to his music. Grouped together here is a selection of the best songs he played on, wrote or both. It’s an extensive collection, featuring many of the bands and projects he was involved with, yet it feels compact. As its title suggests, Late Late Party is party music pure and simple, and that is its biggest strength; it may not be particularly profound, but it’s likeable, soulful and to the point.

Listening to Late Late Party is like discovering a trunk full of diamonds while you’re gardening. It’s incredible that something this big, and that shines this bright, has managed to stay hidden for so long. So pour yourself a drink, loosen your tie and take a deep breath: it’s going to be a wild night.