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MEMPHIS BOYS - THE STORY OF AMERICAN STUDIOS

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Ace (CDCHD1330)

KING CURTIS: Memphis Soul Stew, DUSTY SPRINGFIELD: Son Of A Preacher Man, JAMES & BOBBY PURIFY: Shake A Tail Feather, BOX TOPS: The Letter, SANDY POSEY: Born A Woman, JAMES CARR: You Got My Mind Messed Up, THE GENTRYS: Jeep On Dancing, JOE SIMON: Nine Pound Steel, MERRILEE RUSH: Angel Of The Morning, WILSON PICKETT: I'm In Love, MARK JAMES: Suspicious Minds, BJ THOMAS: Been Down This Road Before, ARTHUR CONLEY: Funky Street, OSCAR TONEY Jr: For Your Precious Love, THE GLORIES: Dark End Of The Street, JOE TEX: Skinny Legs And All, BOBBY WOMACK: More Than I Can Stand, LC COOKE: Let's Do It Over, SPENCER WIGGINS: The Power Of  A Woman, CLAY HAMMOND: Suzy Do It Better Than You, PERCY MILEM: I Don't Know What You Got (But It's Got Me), DANNY O'KEEFE: God Time Charlie's Got The Blues, ELVIS PRESLEY: I'm Movin' On.

In the 50s and 60s, Memphis had many important and influential recording studios including the likes of Sun, Stax, Meteor and Hi but this CD concentrates on one the greatest - American Studios. Unlike the afore mentioned, American Studios didn't have their own labels. Instead, they concentrated on being the studio of choice for widely successful companies like Atlantic, RCA, Philips, MGM and the progressive smaller outfits like Scepter, Bell, Minit, Goldwax and Sound Stage 7.

The main heroes of American Studios output were owner and producer Chips Moman and his in-house advisory team of writers and producers that included the legendary Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham - but maybe the biggest asset of all was the magnificent hit making house band acknowledged to be in the same league as Booker T & The MGs at Stax and the house bands at Fame and Hi. The musicians included guitarist Reggie Young, keyboard players Bobby Emmons and Bobby Wood, drummer Gene Chrisman and bassists Tommy Cogbill and Mike Leech - all undoubted virtuosos.

On this CD, you get the huge pop music hits like Dusty Springfield's Son Of A Preacher Man, The Box Tops The Letter and Sandy Posey's Born A Woman alongside classic soul sizzlers like the Bobby Womack penned I'm In Love that was taken global by Wilson Pickett, James Carr's breakthrough hit You've Got My Mind Made Up and Joe Tex's blast Skinny Legs And All. Then there's the steaming dance floor special Funky Street by Arthur Conley, the raw emotion packed intense soul ballad The Power Of A Woman by Spencer Wiggins and The Glories all-out-epic Dan Penn and Chip Moman penned classic Dark End Of The Street. Phew! Other eye-opening songs are Mark James' original recording of Suspicious Minds, Bobby Womack duet with LC Cooke (Sam's brother) on the fabulous Let's Do It Over and one of Elvis' best performances I'm Moving On (from his ‘Elvis In Memphis' album) where the band prove their worth on a thundering outro.

You can read all about this stuff in Roben Jones' critically acclaimed book Memphis Boys - The Story Of American Studios (University of Mississippi Press) which gives you all the details but you get extensive sleeve notes with the CD written by Jones and compiler Tony Rounce. There's so much to learn and enjoy about this stellar group of musicians and the studio that gave birth to this incredible music.

 

Review Date: March 2012

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