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The Memphis Album

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Album Review

On The Memphis Album, Guy Sebastian nimbly sidesteps earlier issues of writer's block by traveling to Ardent Studios in Memphis to record 14 gems of '60s Southern soul, using many of the musicians who had worked on the original recordings. With many definitive classic songs — "Knock on Wood," "In the Midnight Hour," "Soul Man," "Dock of the Bay," "Take Me to the River" — The Memphis Album is a superbly skillful record, less interpretive than evocative, with all the ingredients perfectly balanced to win an international audience for the Australian Idol winner. Kicking off with the Sam & Dave classic Soul Man, Sebastian immediately shows his intentions are sincere, respectful, as he fills the song with grace, power, and dignity. The instant immediacy of the backing music makes authenticity unquestionable — there is no mistaking that Stax sound — fat horn lines, funky guitars, and syncopated percussion lock the listener into a perfect groove until the very end of the record. By using many of the original musicians of the era — Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Steve Potts, Lester Snell, and Dave Smith — Sebastian has created a perfect platform to display his impressive range of expression and technical prowess.

What is lacking in all these recordings, though, is what makes all of the original versions so essential. Memphis soul has deservedly achieved mythical importance in the canon of American music. In the '60s the small southern city was a mecca for southern musicians; Stax and other local labels produced music colored by racial tension, economic hardship, and the prevalent sense of institutionalized injustice. Less sugar-coated than the Motown sound, Memphis soul uniquely reflected its geography and time by brilliantly combining the sweeping inclusive beauty of gospel with secularism, carnality, and outrage, creating a distinct and compelling sound independent of any specific artist. The original versions of the songs on The Memphis Album — by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Al Green, and others — stand tall as a heady mixture of earthiness and anger, lust and hope, joy and sadness; each song imbued with a vital urgency that made the listener feel the artists have lived the lyrics, that their own passion and pain bled into the songs.

Of course it is unfair to criticize Sebastian — born two decades and an ocean away from Memphis — for being unable to nail this nebulous vibe, the "spirit of the times." What Sebastian brings to the table is a wonderful voice, heartfelt respect, and skillful presentation. His range, style, and tone are all remarkable, and his technique so polished that it could be argued (at the risk of being blasphemous) that he occasionally improves on the original recordings, sweetly gliding through parts shouted by the originals. With the exception of an insipid "Under the Boardwalk," all of the selections are top-notch, adeptly produced, excellently performed, with Sebastian pouring himself whole-heartedly into the material.

The Memphis Album quickly went double platinum in Australia, and Sebastian toured Australia with the MGs as his support band. Featuring the Memphis "funk brothers" of Duck Dunn and Steve Cropper, the concerts were hugely successful, culminating in a live concert DVD; the rave reviews generated an international release of the album plans for world-wide touring. The Memphis Album is an excellent introduction to Memphis soul for neophytes, and a good introduction to Guy Sebastian for those unfamiliar with his talent or intellectually averse towards any Idol releases. For die-hard soul collectors, the backing tracks alone by the MGs and Memphis horns should be enough incentive to pick up the CD; Guy Sebastian's sheer talent will be a nice revelation. Recommended.

Customer Reviews

Guy's a 'Soul Man'

An amazing tribute to classic Soul music of the past. Guy Sebastian is a marvel. This new Memphis album pays incredible respect and homage to legends in Otis Redding, Al Green, Ray Charles, Sam & Dave , Wilson Pickett....who very well in their own right established the Soul/R&B genré. Guy Sebastian continues to prove that he is destined for greatness, as he's surely found himself musically by unleashing his inner 'Soul'. Guy Sebastian is surely the man to breathe new life into this wonderful genré of music by revolutionising, rejuvenating and revitalising a new era of Soul/R&B in years to come both in Australia and overseas. "Hold On, He's Coming"

Killer vocal, Joy and Great music

This is exactly what you expect the album delivers, sheer joy and great music. Even Guy's own track '"I'd like to get to know you" sounds great amongst the classic songs. Guy dynamic vocal range shone through all tracks such as "Take me to the River", " Hold on I'm coming", "Respect yourself" , "Hard to handle", "I've been loving you too long". This is the fun live record with less seriousness but with raw emotions. In this record, the legendary MGs and blues brothers band proved to us they're still rocking hard.

A must buy for Lovers of Fine Vocals and Music

After listening to this album now at least 10 times today,I have to say this is a must buy, with killer vocals by Guy and a fantastic backing band, made up of Legends from Memphis, the MG's of Booker T and the MG's and the Blues Brothers how could it miss but be a hit,this music is bliss on the ears,do yourselves a big favour and purchase it and think about going to The Memphis Tour happening late Feb 2008 and March 2008, in Australia, The MG's are coming to Australia history in the making, I give this Album 5 Stars :-)


Born: 26 October 1981 in Klang, Malaysia

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Guy Sebastian was born in Klang, Malaysia, to Malaysian and English parents. At a young age, Sebastian moved with his family to Adelaide, Australia. His singing career began at the age of 14. In addition to attending a Baptist private school, he attended Paradise Community Church, one of Australia's largest megachurches. His involvement with the youth choir as a soloist led to national and international performance opportunities. After graduation, Sebastian found work as an audio engineer and vocal...
Full Bio
The Memphis Album, Guy Sebastian
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  • $11.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Adult Contemporary
  • Released: 10 November 2007

Customer Ratings