Sunday, June 30, 2019
Stax, Volt, and Enterprise, in their heyday, put out a consistent string of great records that we can all agree were great. They had an immediately recognizable sound. That is definitely Al Jackson on the drums! That's Steve Cropper playing that guitar! No doubt about it. They all worked well together, and they always sounded like they were having fun.
Sometimes, though, the fun component was just off-the-chain. Sometimes, it sounds like the whole recording session was having a ball. This is one such record, in my humble and no doubt personal opinion. This session featured Rufus Thomas, who always brought the party, so maybe it's no surprise. Could that be the secret?
I think that it's more likely that the secret to these wild jams is that they happened on records that were over in the corners of the labels' output. Not front and center like Otis Redding, or Booker T and the MGs. The pressure is off under those circumstances. I'll bet that records like this were cut fast in between larger studio projects. There's a great cut about Bar-B-Que that the liner notes say was cut on the fly, written and recorded while the band was waiting around for a "more important" session. That one sounds like a party, too.
Disclaimer: I know that I come off like a know-it-all sometimes, and I don't like it anymore than my detractors do. Really, I only know what I like, and I like records that sound like everybody was having fun making them. It makes them more fun to listen to, don't you think?