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Watched a doc on Netflix over the weekend on Memphis soul, the title of which is the title of this thread.

I've been a sucker for almost any type of Memphis soul, for well over 50 years now. Profiled in the film are both STAX and Royal Studios, and many of the Memphis equivalents of the Wrecking Crew and the gang from Standing in the Shadows of Motown are profiled. As a film, it didn't hang together particularly well, or tell the sort of story that makes for a good documentary. I found the documentary on Muscle Shoals to be better in that regard. But that didn't impede the pleasure in watching a number of soul greats give what turned out to be one of their last performances.

The overall gist of the film was that classic Memphis soul tracks were being re-recorded with a classic performer delivering the singing vocals, and a contemporary rapper being injected for a few verses to hip-ify the track. Playing throughout was the late Skip Pitts, who most people will know as the guy who pretty much made wah-wah, via his classic intro to the Theme From Shaft. Pitts was a character, and a heap of fun. Just as much fun as Mavis Staples, who also appears, as does Dave Porter, who co-wrote so many Sam and Dave hits with Isaac Hayes. Also figuring frequently were the Hi rhythm section, comprised mostly of the Hodges brothers, who recently backed Robert Cray on his current album, and also played behind almost everything that Al Green ever released, and singer William Bell, whom some of you may have seen backed by Gary Clark Jr. on last year's Grammies. Bobby Blue Bland gets rolled in in a wheelchair and gives a final performance. If Mel Torme was "the velvet fog", Bland was pure satin. I saw him on a bill with B.B. King back in the early 70's and even wheelchair bound, 45 years later, he still had it goin' on. His tutoring of juvenile rapper L'il P-Nut is precious. I hope the kid remembers and treasures it years from now.

The layout of Royal Studio is interesting. Apparently the late Willie Mitchell, founder of the studio and Hi Records, and producer of Al Green's hits, had it meticulously tuned.

If you like soul, worth watching.
 

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The band I played in during the 60s had a number of Stax/Volt songs on our set lists.
 

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The band I played in during the 60s had a number of Stax/Volt songs on our set lists.
I love the Stax/Volt catalog, and highly recommend Rob Bowman's excellent book about it, entitled Soulsville. It wasn't until I went to see Booker T. and the MGs about a decade back, at Ottawa Bluesfest, that I realized I had always wanted to be Steve Cropper. I listened to them and found myself constantly thinking "That's exactly what I would have tried to play" (and I do emphasize "tried"). My phrasing and note choices had been modelled around his.

They do a remake of the Rufus Thomas classic "Push and Pull" in the film. I recall first hearing the tune on campus radio in 1969, while studying for a midterm in the residence lounge. My first thought was "Is that guy saying what I think he's saying?"
 
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