Saturday, November 24, 2007
TOUGH STAX SOUL
Be cool and there is no cooler than Stax Records from deep, down in chicken-fried Memphis, recording home of so many greats, Rufus and Carla, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Albert King, the Staple Singers. You can have your Graceland across town, but make sure to visit Stax, nicknamed Soulsville, USA. If you're lucky you'll get to hear the hardcore house band, Booker T and the MGs.
You can't go wrong with Booker T's heavy Hammond B-3 organ layed thick over kick-ass rhythm section Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass and Al Jackson Jr on drums, with lead guitar from the great Steve Cropper, who co-wrote "Dock of the Bay" with Otis Redding. Rare for creating such a groove, and rare for being racially mixed in the Deep South in these Jim Crow days. In the early days, it was shades and razor sharp sharkskin suits, and later on there were beards and long hair and a tough psychedelic sound that never deteriorated into endless hippy noodling.
The film clips are a little rough, but imagine it's a hot southern night and you're sipping whiskey on the rocks and maybe smoking gage out behind the club and these cats are on the bandstand and there is no tomorrow. Cool? These guys wrote the book. Enjoy the early, essential instrumental hit "Green Onions" above, and this later clip of a swampy "Time is Tight" led off by weird beard Steve Cropper. Either way, catch a riff to Soulsville.