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Memphis's finest, in top form
February 4, 2014 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Fans of classic southern R&B and soul, and I'm talking the Stax variety, should get down on their knee and genuflect toward Norway, and then sing the praises of the BBC down every corner and alleyway of the city of Memphis. Why? Well, for hosting and for documenting a sweaty, burning, solidly funky evening back in 1967: Otis Redding & Friends Stax Volt Revue
posted by flapjax at midnite (28 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite

 
Recently, my on-demand service had a Stax reunion concert available. In it, Otis Redding's son Dexter performed "Try a Little Tenderness." It was as instructive a lesson in the genius of Otis Redding as you could ever hope to see. Here was a man from the same blood, with a similar face, similar tone to his voice, and he was a pleasant enough singer. But, apologies to the younger Redding, he wasn't a spot on his old man, who was just a volcano of passion and longing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:22 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


A few words on the band members, for those who may not know: the bass player is Stax house session regular Donald "Duck" Dunn, who died in Tokyo back in 2012. On guitar, it's Stax stalwart Steve Cropper. Some may remember these two veteran string men from the Blues Brothers band. On drums it's Al Jackson Jr, again, a Stax mainstay and one of the solidest drummers in American music history! And that horn section... damn, are they tight or what? Sorry I don't know their names, but their telepathic, *of one mind* tightness was also key to the great Stax sound.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:28 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


This made my day! Thanks.
posted by ecorrocio at 7:31 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Gotta give Booker T some love! This has been great so far. Thank you for posting.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:33 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


That's one hell of a lineup.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:34 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


wow!
posted by thelonius at 7:49 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Sweet mercy, that's the real deal, two-fisted soul!
posted by Ber at 7:51 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


It is strange to see these players so young.
posted by thelonius at 7:54 AM on February 4


And that horn section... damn, are they tight or what?

It's the Mar-Key horns, sometimes known as the Memphis Horns. I think they had their own set in that Stax Volt Revue lineup, with Booker T & the MGs backing, billed as the Mar-Keys (they also put out several records, quite a few of which are perfect for all your Otis Redding karaoke needs).

Those fellows played all over Stax records in different combinations. The core of the group is Wayne Jackson on trumpet, Andrew Love on tenor sax and Joe Arnold on barry sax. They worked a lot.

James Mitchell (Willie's brother) is probably there too. His playing and arrangements are on all kinds of hit records, including but not limited to Otis, Aretha, Rufus & Carla Thomas, O.V. Wright, Al Green, Ann Peebles, Sam & Dave, even Elvis, the Doobies, and Joan Baez.

Talk about steady. Those cats could blow.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:55 AM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Shake it like a bowl of soup!
posted by Jode at 7:56 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Ice Cream Socialist, thanks!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:59 AM on February 4


It's so wonderful to see all these performers at the top of their game.
Try a Little Tenderness: The beautiful horn intro (only 3 horns!), the gentle vocal entry -- and then Al Jackson brings in the quarter-note on the rim, fast and urgent and unrelenting. The tune goes through several quiet moods - a hint of bossa nova in the last verse - and then for the ending it just rages!
I opened for Booker T in the 90's. (Anton Figg instead of Jackson, no Mar-Keys). They did a set on their own and a set backing up Eddie Floyd. Sadly, Eddie was not in good voice but the band was truly amazing.
posted by Jode at 8:27 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


(Hah, Michael McKean just gave this post a shoutout on Twitter. Cool.)
posted by mintcake! at 8:28 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Pretty much perfection - thanks flapjax.
posted by davidmsc at 9:08 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Any day where flapjax at midnite makes a music-related FPP is a good day. Thanks, man!
posted by lord_wolf at 9:33 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I was just in Memphis a few weeks back for work, spent too much money on buying old Stax singles, and then watched this video twice (and some of the other Stax Volt Revue videos on Youtube for the rest of the week).

People keep asking me if I got Elvis stuck in my head from the week in Memphis. I tell "No, I got Otis on the brain."

I've also been getting into long protracted discussions about Otis Redding's version of "Respect" versus Aretha's. I don't think there's an answer.
posted by kendrak at 9:47 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Wow, I somehow had never known that Otis Redding did a cover of My Girl.

I like how he made it somewhat naughtier by changing "I've got so much honey, the bees envy me" to "I've got so much loving, the bees envy me." Birds and bees do it....
posted by lord_wolf at 10:48 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


For those who don't have an hour to devote to this just now, Otis starts in minute 38.
posted by Xalf at 5:57 PM on February 4


A few words on the band members, for those who may not know: the bass player is Stax house session regular Donald "Duck" Dunn, who died in Tokyo back in 2012. On guitar, it's Stax stalwart Steve Cropper. Some may remember these two veteran string men from the Blues Brothers band Booker T. and the MGs. FTFY. Jesus Christ, you young people.

People, please do not skip to minute 38 without hearing the nice live version of Green Onions at the beginning.
posted by bricoleur at 9:15 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


And thank you for a wonderful hour, flapjax at midnite, that was awesome.
posted by bricoleur at 9:18 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Some may remember these two veteran string men from the Blues Brothers band Booker T. and the MGs. FTFY. Jesus Christ, you young people.

bricoleur, you don't understand... it was the young folks I was talking to! We know that there are a lot of folks who've seen the Blues Brothers movie who will be unaware of the personnel of (or even the existence of) Booker T and the MGs. People at large who remember them from the Blues Brothers will far outnumber people who know them as members of the MGs. Which is why I included the Blues Brothers reference, of course.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:27 PM on February 4


(Hah, Michael McKean just gave this post a shoutout on Twitter. Cool.)

You mean this Michael Mckean? Wow! So, this post goes to 11? I'm not on Twitter: what'd he say?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:33 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


McKean is at :
https://twitter.com/MJMcKean
posted by llc at 9:47 PM on February 4


Aw, yeah, I do too understand. Really I do. But, man, that was the original MGs.
posted by bricoleur at 10:08 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


The Stax Volt Revue CD is always in my car, it might be one of my most played cd.

Here's an awesome french documentary on Stax shot in 1969. The horn recording session seems so easy for these guys!
posted by briac at 2:56 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Here's an awesome french documentary on Stax

Wow, thanks so much for that. I had seen just a fragment of it somewhere else, at some point, specifically, the part where Isaac Hayes is rehearsing the horn section in the conference room. Had never seen the rest. Great, great little film that still leaves me wanting so much more!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:57 AM on February 5


When I saw Duck Dunn's bass last month, I had a moment where time stopped and everything else around me melted away. My friends (who didn't really know who Duck Dunn was) said it was like a trance.

Also for further watching, somebody put the BBC documentary The Stax Story on Youtube in parts.
posted by kendrak at 8:57 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


The Otis Redding Wikipedia article has this lovely substitute for the usual [citation needed]:
Redding returned to Europe to perform at the Paris Olympia. The live album Otis Redding: Live in Europe was released three months later, featuring this and other live performances in London and Stockholm, Sweden.[33] Redding was criticized for his arrogant and contrived (says who?) performances in these concerts.
I think Wikipedia should make [sez who?] standard.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 1:53 PM on February 6


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