(CD and DVD) resulted from the April 30, 2003 celebration of the opening of the Stax Museum of America Soul Music in Memphis, Tennessee, performed at the famous Orpheum Theater. A portion of the proceeds from the CD and DVD is to be donated to the Stax Museum and Music Academy.
On hand were the royalty of Memphis and Muscle Shoals music from their heyday during the mid-‘60s to mid-‘70s. For the most part, the artists remain in very good form, with only a shaky but more than sincere Percy Sledge making it on the DVD and not the CD. Despite the painful absence of Otis Redding (and the notable absence of Aretha Franklin), the lineup was comprised of complete soul royalty. From the opener, Eddie Floyd singing his show-stopping "Knock on Wood," to Mavis Staples belting out "I’ll Take You There," the festivities (for this 45-year-old writer) were electrifying and nostalgic.
Central to this set are the performances by Booker T. and the MGs ("Green Onions," what else?) and Al Green ("Let’s Stay Together" and "Love and Happiness"). Coupled with the spirit of Otis Redding, channeled by Michael McDonald ("Dock of the Bay" and "When Something is Wrong with My Baby") and Solomon Burk ("Try A Little Tenderness"), these songs illustrate conclusively why Southern soul music is vastly superior to the Detroit variety, with its trite overproduction. (No offense to the Funk Brothers, who with Booker T. and the MGs and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section comprise the best studio bands ever.)
This is music of grit, grace, and power. If you do not believe me, cue up "I’ll Take You there."
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