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The Great Memphis Sound

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Album Review

A case of good time party music, albeit clearly overshadowed by its creators' historical importance. Far beyond the novelty of 1961's "Last Night," some of the Mar-Keys went on to immortalize themselves as the solid backbone of Southern soul in its prime. As can be learned from editor Robert Gordon's It Came from Memphis, most of the original members weren't allowed to play on the first two studio albums. Instead, these barely 18-year-olds were sent out on tour pretty much on a permanent basis. After two years they disbanded, fed up with each other and allegedly driving their tour bus into the sea. Fast forward to 1965 and the Mar-Keys Mach II. Booker T. & the M.G.'s and the Memphis Horns were beginning to build a reputation, backing early Stax sides and releasing albums in their own right. Whether a payback or maybe just for good measure, the M.G.'s guitarist Steve Cropper and Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns decided to put together another Mar-Keys record. Bringing in respective bandmembers Al Jackson, Jr. and Andrew Love, they were joined by a third original Mar-Keys member Donald "Duck" Dunn, the bass player who was about to replace Lewis Steinberg in the M.G.'s. Also on board was Isaac Hayes helping out on organ, as he would regularly fill in for Booker T. whenever the band was booked twice in one night in different locations. The Great Memphis Sound easily stands out from its two predecessors, as it refrains from novelties inspired by a certain sailor man. Well intended instrumental versions of jazz and popular standards are also kept at a minimum. In its place are the tightly locked groove of "Grab This Thing" and "Philly Dog," their slightly speeded up version of Rufus Thomas' "The Dog." The latter managed to return them to the Top 20 of the R&B charts and rounded off a James Brown medley, which works quite well as a showcase for the Memphis Horns. Without a doubt the albums' standout track is "Plantation Inn." Named after the Memphis club which catered for some of the best black music to white audiences, this tribute is more than likely inspired by adolescent Mar-Keys regularly sneaking in and learning the trade from the legendary musicians. It practically begs to be used by Quentin Tarantino, in a similar way he employed the Meters' "Cissy Strut" for the movie Jackie Brown.


Formed: 1958 in Memphis, TN

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s

Despite scoring only one national hit, the 1961 instrumental smash "Last Night," the Mar-Keys remain one of the most important groups ever to emerge from the Memphis music scene. As the first house band for the legendary Stax label, they appeared on some of the greatest records in soul history, with their ranks also producing such renowned musicians as guitarist Steve Cropper and bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn. The Mar-Keys formed in 1958 and included drummer Terry Johnson, pianist Jerry Lee "Smoochie"...
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The Great Memphis Sound, The Mar-Keys
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  • 9,90 €
  • Genres: R&B/Soul, Music, Rock, Soul
  • Released: 1966

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