Band in 1968. Memphis further reaffirms the selective approach the vocalist, guitarist and songwriter has brought to his career in recent years, at the same time reminding that his best work, such as his eponymous debut (Atlantic, 1969)with its famous Duane Allman
solo projects) on a mix of original material and R&B chestnuts that mirror the soul and grit in the musicianship.
Those down-to-earth qualities are also reflected in the depth of the recording itself, even when orchestration decorates the basic tracks, as it does on "Rainy Night in Georgia." Keyboardist Spooner Oldham's piano accompaniment on a track like "Love on a Two-Way Street" defines tasteful and the similarly pithy contributions of Jim Cox and Charles Hodges on "Love on a Two Way Street" indicate how thoroughly sympathetic all the playing is here.
Covers such as "Mixed Up Shook Up Girl" don't immediately sound familiar, but that's all to the good. Scaggs imbues such material with his own suave personality, much as he did on the lush likes of his work with Johnny Bristol on Slow Dancer (Columbia, 1974), and he also extends that approach to unusual choices such as Steely Dan
The bluesy latter third of Memphis supplies an emotional depth to the album (not to mention a broader demographic appeal) it would otherwise lack. On the rocking of "Cadillac Walk," Boz Scaggs' shouts sound as natural as his crooning on "Corinna Corinna." His sly delivery of "Dry Spell," alternating with the raw electric dobro of Keb Mo,' suggests what a skilled vocalist he is, an impression further reaffirmed when he goes on to wail in an understated fashion on "You Got Me Cryin,'" where Scaggs' falsetto sets the stage for harpist Charlie Musselwhite
. The juxtaposition of these cuts with the closing "Sunny Gone" (appropriately, one of the two originals here) sums up Scaggs' indispensableand wholly crediblecontrast with the romanticism at the heart of this man and his work.
Track Listing: Gone Baby Gone; So Good To Be Here; Mixed Up Shook Up Girl; Rainy Night in Georgia;
Love on a Two Way Street; Pearl of the Quarter; Cadillac Walk; Corinna, Corinna; Can I
Change My Mind; Dry Spell; You Got Me Cryin'; Sunny Gone.
Personnel: Boz Scaggs: lead vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Keb Mo: slide dobro; Charlie
Musselwhite: harmonica; Willie Weeks: bass: David Hungate: bass; Ray Parker Jr.
guitars; Rick Vito: guitar; Eddie Willis: guitar; Spooner Oldham keyboards; Jim Fox:
keyboards; Charles Hodges: keyboards: Jack Ashford: vibraphone; Steve Jordan: drums;
Shannon Forrest: drums; Monet Owens: voice; Royal Horns (Ben Cauley: trumpet; Jim
Horn: baritone saxophone; Jack Hale: trombone; Lonnie McMillan; tenor saxophone);
Lester Snell: piano, string arrangements; Royal Strings: Jessie Munson: violin; Beth
Luscome: viola; Wen-Yih Yu: violin; Barrie cooper: violin; Jennifer Puckett: viola; Mark
Wallace: cello; Jonathan Kiekscey: cello)