I purchased this Rhino compilation recently for track 3, The Horse, but I'll be doggone if this isn't a fantastic disc from top to bottom. Many of these tunes were written before I was born so it's like they've always existed. And I find comfort in that. Highly recommended.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
- Green Onions - Booker T. & The MG's (1962, #1 R&B, #3 Pop): A stone cold classic. This is the third or fourth time this blues song has appeared on this blog. I never tire of hearing it and I never get tired of Booker T. Jones, who wrote the song as a high school senior.
- Grazing in the Grass - Hugh Masekela (1968, #1 R&B, #1 Pop): I consider this to be my all-time favorite summer instrumental. So laid back and relaxing. Also check out the version by Orchestra Harlow.
- The Horse - Cliff Nobles & Co. (1968, #2 R&B, #2 Pop): what a funky, irresistible groove. One of those songs that you play at a party and everybody gets up and dances and says, "Hey, I know that song!"
- Soul Twist - King Curtis & The Noble Knights (1962, #1 R&B, #17 Pop): Curtis had a distinct reedy sax tone and it is absolutely perfect here. Ernie Hayes lays down a sweet organ solo to boot.
- Last Night - The Mar-Keys (1961, #2 R&B, #3 Pop): another Stax tune that has made multiple appearances on this blog. And justifiably so. Another smoking example of Memphis R&B, heavy on the B. Now I'm hungry for some Rendezvous ribs.
- The "In Crowd" - Ramsey Lewis Trio (1965, #2 R&B, #5 Pop): Originally a Dobie Gray joint, Ramsey cut this single live at Bohemian Caverns, a Washington, D.C. night club. The cover is better than the original. Ramsey's biggest hit, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't buy more of his music.
- Soul Finger - The Bar-Kays (1967, #3 R&B, #17 Pop): Fantastic bass line, aggressive trumpet trills, party crowd noise, tasty guitar solo - what's not to like? I don't know what a soul finger is and maybe I don't want to.
- Soul Makossa - Manu Dibango (1973, #21 R&B, #35 Pop): This one's a little out of place among the others, but since it's widely considered to be the very first disco record and I didn't have a recording in my archives, I'm glad it's on here. That funky bridge is soooooo tasty. Manu played a mean sax, too.
- Twine Time - Alvin Cash & The Crawlers (1964, #4 R&B, #14 Pop): Here we get the first filler track. It's not a bad little dance tune, it just pales compared to everything that came before.
- Soulful Strut - Young-Holt Unlimited (1968, #3 R&B, #3 Pop): I consider this to be my 2nd all-time favorite summer instrumental. So laid back and relaxing. Both Soulful Strut and Grazing in the Grass appear on almost every summer/poolside playlist I've created.
- Hang 'Em High - Booker T. & The MG's (1968, #35 R&B, #9 Pop): a fun cover of a movie theme, especially when Booker T. kicks up the key and intensity with almost every verse before letting the ending simmer.
- Mercy, Mercy, Mercy - Cannonball Adderley (1966, #2 R&B, #11 Pop): a surprise hit, but when a song's written this well, what do you expect? I've heard many covers of this one, but I always come back to this live original.
- El Watusi - Ray Barretto Y Su Charange Moderna (1963, #17 R&B, #17 Pop): not really an instrumental, but I don't mind much cuz it's a catchy Latin number that leads seamlessly into
- Watermelon Man - Mongo Santamaria (1963, #8 R&B, #10 Pop): We're big fans of Mongo around here and when he takes a Herbie Hancock tune and puts the boogaloo to it, we're big fans of that, too.
- Viva Tirado-Part I - El Chicano (1970, #20 R&B, #28 Pop): the second filler track of the disc. It's got a nice groove, but just doesn't do much with it. Come to think of it, what are these last three tracks doing on a compilation with "soul" in the title?
- Hip Hug-Her - Booker T. & The M.G.'s (1967, #6 R&B, #37 Pop): I could complain that this compilation relies too much on Booker T & The MG's, but that would just be silly. Four of that group's track on here actually seems about right. Keep bringing those grooves, Booker.
- Wack Wack - The Young Holt Trio (1966, #12 R&B, #40 Pop): with a bass line straight from Cool Jerk, this piano trio takes off and swings. Not much to the bass solo, but expectations are usually low for those anyway.
- Time Is Tight - Booker T. & The M.G.'s (1969, #7 R&B, #6 Pop): Ending like we began, in the Stax studio. As it should be. This cut shows how many different sounds Booker T could coax out of a Hammond organ.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: For the record, The Horse is a classic in my mind because, where I grew up, all high school marching bands played an arrangement of it. Many still do.
A recent purchase here at blog headquarters was a 45 single of The Horse on the Phil-L.A. of Soul label (filet of sole, get it?). Have been enjoying both sides of the single, the A-side with vocals, Love Is All Right, and the more famous B-side without.
Thanks to Herc for the playlist.