Monday, 20 January 2020

Marathon 3: Sweet Soul Music

40 mins Easy Run. EJGH is running too, slowly, after over a year injured.

Location: Whitby - Links View, Upgang Lane, sea wall, Promenade, extra bit from the Spiders Web to the White House and back. 5.5km

Weather: Windy but dry.

Outfit: 2019 Poultry Run shirt, best shorts again, black trainers.

Music: Hit The Road Stax - NME Cassette (1983, recorded 1967) 50 mins.

Green Onions: Booker T & The MGs
Red Beans and Rice: Booker T & The MGs
B-A-B-Y: Carla Thomas
Sweet Soul Music: Arthur Conley
Raise Your Hand: Eddie Floyd
Knock On Wood: Eddie Floyd
Last Night: The Mar-Keys
Philly Dog: The Mar-Keys
You Don't Know Like I Know: Sam & Dave
Hold On I'm Comin': Sam & Dave
Respect: Otis Redding
Try A Little Tenderness: Otis Redding

I lost my copy of this tape in a house move, so thank you to whichever illegal download site I got the mp3s from.

The album was intended, I assume, to represent a typical night on the Stax/Volt Revue tour of the UK and Europe in 1967, although with hard-panned 1960s stereo and some brutal edits, it is clear that the recordings come from different concerts. As such the music is better suited to a single speaker on full blast than to earbuds.

It kicks off, as I guess the concerts used to, with Booker T and the MGs' Green Onions. I've seen contemporary videos where the band rushed through the tune, which was an oldie even then. Perhaps the compilers had to trawl through the recordings to get a decent version for this album, but they found a cracker - faster than the record, but not hurried. Duck Dunn's bass is an excited heartbeat and Steve Cropper's guitar is an electric shock. (I could go further with this metaphor - something about paddles and "Clear!" It would get dull.)

Even with the obvious edits, it's not hard to imagine yourself in the audience of this show (I use the term advisedly. This is a show, not a gig.) Vocalists file onstage, introduced by Emperor Rosko, and some of the performances are literally marvellous - full of marvel at the joy of life, love and sex, full of pain at the very same things. Even so, the MGs are the focus, the singers almost incidental.

On side 2 of the tape - after the interval at the show - the Mar-keys take over as the band, and the sound gets a little thinner as a result. Sam and Dave and Otis Redding are anything but incidental. It might just have been a weedier recording.

Hit The Road Stax has far more hits on it than Stax's own record of the tour, The Stax/Volt Revue. I can't find it on the web at the moment, but I'm sure someone will upload it again soon. In the meantime, numerous recordings of live 1960s Stax shows are circulating on the semi-legal/is this out of copyright? market. As a guess, I'd say hear them all. I may run to one of them, later in my schedule, just for the academic interest

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