When three-time Academy Award nominee Morgan Freeman decided to throw a birthday party for his wife, Myrna, some months ago, he asked producer David Less to assemble the best musicians and arrangements to be found in the Mid-South. Then he asked that the celebration be presided over by a royal presence: Carla Thomas, the undisputed all-time Queen of Memphis Soul. Now, Live In Memphis from Carla Thomas and Friends captures that magical evening for those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to have been on the Freemans’ guest list. That starry night found Carla in great spirits; no wonder, as her soulful vocals were backed by a group that harkened back to the glory days of the Stax sound.
These extraordinary musicians, described by “Son of Sun” Knox Phillips, as “the best of the best in Memphis, the first call for recording sessions,” are the cream of Memphis players. A bonus for Stax-o-holics is Isaac Hayes’ straight- fronm-the-heart liner notes. Backing Carla that great night were Spooner Oldham on piano, Stax alumni Ronnie Williams (Hammond B3) and Bobby Manuel (guitar), current Booker T & The MG’s drummer Steve Potts as well as star session bassist Dave Smith, a veteran of the late Luther Allison’s recording band, plus songwriting great Dan Penn on backing vocals. The all-star horn section of Jim Spake (sax) and Scott Thompson (trumpet) played true the original arrangements of Carla’s catalog of blockbuster hits, bringing additional enthusiasm, drive and funk to the mix. With the added vocals of Mad Lads lead Williams Brown and Reba Russell, a Memphis vocal legend in her own right, Carla revisits her greatest hits including “Gee Whiz,” “Let Me Be Good To You“ and “B-A-B-Y.” There’s also a reprise of her hit duet with Otis Redding, “Lovey Dovey” plus Carla’s take on Jimmy Reed’s “Little Red Rooster,” Sam and Dave’s “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby” and others performed with renewed sprit and verve. Carla Thomas was a charter member of the Stax Records roster and has built a worldwide reputation as one of the greatest female soul singers of all time.
The daughter of the late R&B pioneer Rufus Thomas, Carla began her singing career while still a teenager. “Gee Whiz” was Stax’ first national hit and she would, thereafter, find a berth the charts a phenomenal 22 times. As a duet partner of the late, great Otis Redding and on her own, her emotive abilities continue to set her apart from the rest. “We knew we couldn’t let Carla down,” Spake said. “Scott and I loved all of her Stax hits and we wanted to be as true to that spirit as we possibly could. The band was amazing and Carla was thrilled.” Carla, the Memphis Soul Queen, celebrated not only Myrna Freeman’s birthday that night but a renaissance of her own, as well. Carla Thomas and Friends: Live In Memphis is not only for the legions of Carla Thomas fans and soul completists but, also, for anyone who just wants to have an unmitigated good time with Memphis music performed and recorded to perfection, it’s a must have album.
|Release Date||Nov 23, 2015|
|Artist||Carla Thomas and Friends|
|Record Label||Memphis International Records|
|Music Genre||R&B / Soul|
|Number of Discs||1|
|Box Lot Quantity||30|