Hearing the classic soul and funk grooves on the second album by this group of Memphis soul veterans is a revelatory experience. The Bo-Keys are not unlike a Buena Vista Social Club for the Stax/Volt soul sound.
Band members have done time with such legends as B.B. King, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Otis Redding, Al Green, Ann Peebles and Isaac Hayes, among others. Their music has added credibility to such movies as Hustle and Flow and Soul Men. Cyndi Lauper got the same when she hired them as her backing band for the album Memphis Blues, which was produced bandleader Scott Bomar.
All 12 cuts are originals, but they sound as if they have been dug up from record bins in some out-of-the-way, vintage-music shop. Instrumentals such as "Hi Roller" and "Just Chillin'" are irresistible, glorious and steeped in the grand tradition of Booker T. and the MG's, with punchy horn charts, dizzying B3 organ and deep-in-the-pocket rhythms. The slow and treacherous blues stroll "Sundown on Beale," with stinging guitar by Charles "Skip" Pitts, makes great mood music for the film noir in your head.
Pitts, by the way, played the wah-wah on "Theme From Shaft"; he adds a similar part to "Work That Sucker," and its flute-led melody sounds like inner-city soul from that time. Guest singers such as Otis Clay (most notably on the title track), Percy Wiggins and William Bell bring a level of verisimilitude that is undeniable.