Monday, January 03, 2011

Bo Keys Royal Memphis Soul

Its been a number of months (maybe years) since I received the CD “The Royal Sessions” by the Bo Keys (Yellow Dog Records) and uploaded the music into itunes. This morning, December 27, I decided to give this CD of Memphis Soul, listen on my Mac. Bandleader and bassist Scott Bomar formed the Bo-Keys as an homage to the quintessential Memphis sound. In creating The Bo Keys, he recruited other players including Charles 'Skip' Pitts, long-time guitarist with the late Isaac Hayes; trumpeter Ben Cauley from the Bar-Kays and only member of that band to survive the December 1967 crash that killed Otis Redding and fellow members of the band; drummer Howard Grimes and organist Archie "Hubie" Turner, both from the Hi Rhythm Section along with some younger members of the Memphis music scene.

“The Royal Sessions” were recorded in Spring 2003 at the late Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios in Memphis and the resulting CD was issued by Yellow Dog in 2004. Musically its an affectionate exploration into their hometown Memphis soul sound, although the somewhat laid back feeling gives it more of the restrained Hi sound of more recent years as opposed to the Stax sound of the mid-sixties through the early seventies. No ripping instrumentals light “ Last Night” or “Soulfinger,” but plenty of nice grooves. “Coming Home Baby,” was at one time a staple of blues bands and this Herbie Mann recording is slowed down here for a steamy ride followed by “Deuce and A Quarter,” which conjures up some classic Stax with the horns while Jimmy Smith’s “Back at the Chicken Shack,” opens with some chatter among band members as the group takes the classic to a slow-drag tempo. It is followed by the James Brown, passing the peas and gravy, funk of “Doin’ it To Death.” “I remember Stax,” is a reflective, low-key instrumental with the rhythm setting the table while the horns add punch.

Not to say that this is an indispensable release, but it is quite nice to hear the mix of veterans and young turks together putting together these solid groove and keep the classic Memphis Soul Sound alive.
The Bo Keys with Ben Cauley with trumpet, Charles 'Skip' Pitts on guitar at the 2008 Ponderosa Stomp

I likely received this from either the label or a publicist for Yellow Dog Records.

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