Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Herbie Mann Memphis Underground
Herbie Mann always struck me as a creepy older uncle type dude who would show up at your parties and bum everyone out trying to smoke weed with them. Despite that, he made being a hairy flute player cool, was on Atlantic ,and always had a good ear for covers, so I pick up his lps when the price is right. That is how I grabbed Memphis Underground.
5 tracks.1969. The subdued and arty front cover is in stark contrast to the shirtless Mann working in the studio on the back cover. A shirtless,sweaty, hairy mess. That is more in keeping with his aesthetic.
Went immediately to the Sam and Dave cover which is pretty epic and gets the thumbs up-even if it misses the sledge hammer drum work of the original. Ripping guitar solos (Larry Coryell,Sonny Sharrock, and Bobby Woods) and sick vibraphone action(Roy Ayers) in addition to Herbie's flute fireworks.
I can't quite perfect an alliteration coup of "Herbie the hirsute flautist's funky fireworks make the track".
"Memphis Underground" is a 7 minute workout. Funky but not earth shattering. The guitar players step up. Sandwiched between this and "Hold On" is the 2 minute funky workout on "New Orleans" which seems like it deserved a more streched out treatment.
Side 2 opens with "Chain of Fools" and you know these jokers have to kick it up a notch to try and match Aretha's take on it. A slightly funkier take with an effected guitar solo that takes off with almost a sitar sound. Bass and vibes step up as the tune kicks out into the 10 minute time zone with kind of a krautrock groove..... (maybe I am getting carried away....)
He closes it out with "Battle Hymn of the Republic" which tragically is kind of snoozefest for most of it's 7 minutes.
This is a mid vaction post, I am doing more record hunting and riding then writing. No internet, etc. Plus with the TDF in shambles I am going with a "no comment" on cycling-excpet to Big Up Village Cycles in Westport MA-did an awesome group ride with them last Sunday. Good shop if you are in the area.