Royal Sessions

Royal Sessions

by The Bo-Keys
     
 

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With the accolades recently paid the Motown session group the Funk Brothers and Joss Stone's band of Miami R&B all-stars, America's nearly forgotten generation of soul masters are at last getting their due. The Bo-Keys step up for the southern-fried sound of Memphis on The Royal Sessions. Unlike their

Overview

With the accolades recently paid the Motown session group the Funk Brothers and Joss Stone's band of Miami R&B all-stars, America's nearly forgotten generation of soul masters are at last getting their due. The Bo-Keys step up for the southern-fried sound of Memphis on The Royal Sessions. Unlike their Detroit brethren, they're not pushing any famous numbers, and no, bandleader and bass player Scott Bomar is not a gamine blond soul singer. Instead, the Bo-Keys supply rock-solid, greasy instrumental funk, as recorded in the studio of legendary producer Willie Mitchell. Bomar, a young garage-rock fan, assembled this band of heavy hitters, and with Stax veterans Ronnie Williams (the Bar-Kays) on Hammond B-3 organ, drummer Willie Hall (the Bar-Kays, the Blues Brothers), and Charles "Skip" Pitts (Isaac Hayes) on guitar, the rhythm section is a regular Murderer's Row. Horns -- honking bari sax and trumpet -- and percussion are provided by Memphis regulars, making for a mix of veteran chops and young ideas. Hall's heavy beats sound like the samples for hip-hop records (in fact, they probably were), and occasional spoken interludes lend a pseudo-rap feel. "My Country Loves Me" is a random recitation of the Bill of Rights, undercut with smirking wah-wah guitar that perfectly captures the tenor of these times. But "I Remember Stax" is a Hammond-laced soul ballad, and the band's reconfigured version of James Brown's "Doin' It to Death" comes straight off the chitlin' circuit ca. 1973. This vital mix of old and new is what makes the well seasoned grooves of the Bo-Keys extra crispy.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
What of a predominantly instrumental soul group called the Bo-Keys? Well, the wordplay on two classic Memphis soul bands, the Mar-Keys and the Bar-Kays, might be off-putting if it weren't for the fact they are from Memphis. But that's just the starting point: While the band is led by Scott Bomar, the 28-year-old bass player from the Impalas, two of its members, drummer Willie Hall and B-3 boss Ronnie Williams, played with the legendary Bar-Kays' Isaac Hayes, and David Porter; Charles Pitts, the guitar player, is the wah-wah guy on "Theme From Shaft" and Rufus Thomas' "Funky Chicken." Finally, this set is called The Royal Sessions because it was recorded live from the floor in Willie Mitchell's Royal Studios in Memphis, with him hanging out during the sessions. So the pedigree is there. Bomar also added the horn section of Memphians Marc Franklin and Jim Spake to the proceedings, both of them veterans of Al Green's and Bobby "Blue" Bland's outfits, and veteran percussionist Hector Diaz, as well. Musically, this is funky, greasy, gritty soul, rooted in the tradition, but is timeless in its heat-seeking groove stealth. The Bo-Keys write killer tunes, with lots of stinging guitar, wailing organ and in-the-pocket backbeats -- check "Deuce and a Quarter," "Seven and 7," the souled-out Latin-flavored funk of "Spanish Delight," the bassed-up bluesy horn stroll in "Under the Table," or the trippy, in-the-mud organ and percussion funk orgy "Bling Bling," that closes the album. In addition, they cover some of the classics, such as Jimmy Smith's jukebox groover "Back at the Chicken Shack," and James Brown's "Doin' It to Death." This is the real stuff made by cats who have been doin' it all their lives; it is the perfect disc for that time when the party kicks into overdrive, or for cruising the boulevard, or whatever gives you pleasure. It also signifies that with the arrival of the great young soulmen and women on the scene -- Ellis Hooks, Joss Stone, and Ricky Fanté to name three -- that something akin to a real revival is on the good foot in the early part of the 21st century.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/04/2004
Label:
Yellow Dog Records
UPC:
0823800106129
catalogNumber:
21061
Rank:
120355

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bo-Keys   Primary Artist
Willie Hall   Percussion,Drums,Vocals,Group Member
Jim Spake   Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Ronnie Williams   Hammond Organ,Vocals,Group Member
Hector Diaz   Percussion
Scott Bomar   Bass,Percussion,Group Member
Marc Franklin   Trumpet

Technical Credits

James Brown   Composer
Willie Hall   Composer,Producer
Jimmy Smith   Composer
Ben Tucker   Composer
Ronnie Williams   Arranger,Producer
Scott Bomar   Composer,Producer
Brooke Barnett   Graphic Design
Andrea Lisle   Liner Notes

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