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Got to Get Back!

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Album Review

Scott Bomar, the bassist/auteur of this large, horn-enhanced, Memphis-based retro-soul band, is nothing if not steeped in authenticity. Along with Brooklyn's Dap-Kings and Nashville's Dynamites, he's referencing the tough soul sound of the '60s and '70s to create contemporary yet retro-inspired roots music clearly indebted to its forebears. Working out of Memphis gives him a leg up on the competition, since he can call in original musicians who are still active to give his project more legitimacy. That's what happens on this 2011 follow-up to the 2004 Bo-Keys debut by utilizing guitarist Charles "Skipp" Pitts (the man who played the distinctive wah-wah on the opening to "The Theme from Shaft"), drummer Howard Grimes (member of the legendary Hi Rhythm Section), and keyboardist Archie "Hubie" Turner (also from the Hi crew) to help create a second dose of sizzling Memphis soul just like they did it in the old days. Unlike the first disc, which was all instrumental, some veteran singers including Otis Clay and William Bell join this one to add their stamp to a handful of tracks. Most of the songs are written by Bomar, although in a few cases, particularly the "Green Onions" rewrite of "Jack and Ginger" where even the organ solo sounds like Booker T., the similarities to other tracks from the music's golden era are so obvious that he should consider sharing credit with the original songwriters. A six-piece horn section brings tight, tough brass to the arrangements, giving the blues of "Sundown on Beale" (a showcase for guitarist Pitts) real heft. Harpist/vocalist Charlie Musselwhite takes control of the midtempo "I'm Going Home," singing with his distinctive weatherbeaten voice and laying his electrified harmonica (which frustratingly fades out during a second solo) over the production. Pitts does his best Wolfman Jack growl, talking through "Work That Sucka" against his unique wah-wah lines and horn charts right out of Shaft. Clay tears it up, sounding like Wilson Pickett in his prime on "Got to Get Back (To My Baby)," the album's standout track and grittiest performance, which is reprised as "Pt. 2," showing what happened in the studio after part one faded out. While unlikely to appeal to those who aren't fans of Memphis music's golden age, the Bo-Keys' uncanny reproduction of all that is memorable about that genre makes this a terrific listen. It might even make listeners dig back and explore the previous work of its veteran guest stars, which would be just fine with Bomar.

Got to Get Back!, The Bo-Keys
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  • 8,99 €
  • Genres: R&B/Soul, Music, Blues
  • Released: 21 June 2011

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