Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Memphis Boys

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Kingpins - In The Pocket (ATCO 6516)

In The Pocket


I'm heading out on a Road Trip the end of this week to attend the sold out Memphis Boys concert at the Franklin Theater in Franklin, Tennessee. I am just so like amped, bro! Woo-Hoo! They are, without question, the most under appreciated of the Southern Soul 'rhythm sections', but somehow it's just not cool (perhaps it's even considered a sacrilege) to say that they were the best. What's that, Red? Better than the MG's, you say? Better than the 'Swampers'? Better than Hi Rhythm?


There, I've said it... this absolutely untouchable B side we have here today is a case in point. Cut in August of 1967, the staggering amount of talent in the building at 827 Thomas Street at that moment just boggles the mind. Tom Dowd and King Curtis showed up with a young bass player named Jerry Jemmott, which freed up Tommy Cogbill to co-produce the sessions with Dowd, resulting in some of the best music ever recorded at American. In addition to all of that, Bobby Womack had just recently arrived and decided to stay a while, composing this incredible song with King Curtis on the spot. They honestly don't come any better than this, folks! This was the first recording credited solely to The Kingpins, the group that Jemmott would continue to anchor for Curtis for years, only in this case it's really the American Group with Jemmott and Womack along for the ride. So, who's playing that towering, shimmering, utterly fantastic electric guitar - Reggie Young, Bobby Womack, or both of them? Hmmm...

In any event, this record shows just how tight a band these guys were, and how, as I said, they continue to turn up in the most unexpected places. Reggie, of course, came up out of Bill Black's Combo, and was the cornerstone of Hi Records for years, playing on virtually every record cut at Royal Studio before Willie Mitchell brought in Hi Rhythm in 1968. It was a studio band that would also include Bobby Emmons, Tommy Cogbill and Mike Leech at one time or another, and whose influence on Memphis Soul is simply incalculable.

You know, I've put up almost 600 45s since I started this thing almost six years ago, and I got this idea to go through them and pull together every one of 'em that featured The Memphis Boys in one form or another. Here goes:


Woodchopper's Ball

I'll Do The Rest

Prayer Meetin'

Forgetting You

Old Friend

Crying Baby Baby Baby

The Dark End Of The Street

You're Gonna Make Me Cry

This Hurt Is Real

Missing You

I Want Everyone To Know

I Was Born All Over

Ain't That True Love

I Don't Want To Have To Wait

Cry Like A Baby

Don't Look Back

Nobody Has To Tell Me (You Were Meant For Me)

One Bo-Dillion Years

(You Keep Me) Hangin' On

I'm Alright Now

Comin' To Bring You Some Soul

Everyday I Have To Cry Some

How Many Times Must I Knock

Show Me

Temptation Was Too Strong

Somebody's Got To Love You

Cheater Man

I'm Blue

Save It

Meet Me In Church

Memphis Underground

New Orleans

So Much Love

This Is Soul

8th Wonder

Burning Fire

People Sure Act Funny

Hey Little One

The High Times

I'm Tired Of Pretending

Tell Me You Love Me

When I started working on this post, I honestly had no idea how many there really were. Wow! Even when taken with the earlier American Soul Mix that I posted a few years back, these records only begin to tell the story of this greatest of all Southern Soul rhythm sections.

As their work with more mainstream artists like B.J. Thomas and Neil Diamond began to bring some well deserved attention to American, things began to change... Once the King entered the building in January of 1969, there was no turning back.

Any Day Now

Here's the number one smash hit that sealed the deal. Arguably Chips and the Boys greatest work, it represented a high water mark that was tough to top.

Suspicious Minds

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that these guys don't deserve all the accolades they've gotten over the years for being the force behind the well documented Elvis Resurrection, I just feel that these kudos tend to obscure the amazing wealth of music that got them there... and just how exceptional they really are.

After the move to Nashville, they continued to be used as a cohesive studio unit on great R&B records like this one by folks like Papa Don Schroeder and Buddy Killen...

I Wanna Be Your Main Squeeze

...and as Chips got down to business in Nashville, and brought his own unique gift to the Outlaw Country movement in the mid-seventies, he brought Reggie and the Boys along with him as well.

Just To Satisfy You

There is no other band with as varied and consistently excellent output, period.

The Memphis Boys stand alone.