Soul Limbo – Split Rivitt (Part 1)

We respectfully dedicate these pages to the friends and family of Barney Jeffrey 1958-2008

Owzat!

Split Rivitt - Soul LimboThe Good Doctor found himself in San Francisco, the morning after England had pulled off their 2009 Ashes victory against Australia at The Oval. For those unfamiliar with this particular competition, we will go no further than to say it is a bi-annual cricket tournament played exclusively between two great Commonwealth rivals. Poms against Ozzies. On a world scale, the patriotic fervour runs disproportionately high. On a local level however, thousands of cricket fans tune their radios in and will every ball to swing their way. To partake is a birth-right. To draw is acceptable. To win is sublime.

Split Rivitt - Chris Warren, David Lyttelton, Dave Wilgrove, Barney Jeffrey, Mark HughesFrom his hotel bathroom, the Good Doctor could be heard preparing for the day ahead, humming Soul Limbo by Booker T. & The MGs. For years it had been the iconic theme music to the BBC’s evening Test Match Special programme. In the olden days, all summer long and across the nation, mothers were inadvertently swaying their hips to its tropical rhythm from behind their ironing boards. Meanwhile, fathers switched on the telly, then took to the settee with their pipe, slippers, a bottle of pale ale and an innate comprehension of cricketing’s complexities. Today of course the domestic scene is very different. Fathers vape to Sky Sports, while mothers limbo under the ironing board, swig craft gin and surf Netflix.

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Rinsing his toothbrush and still humming, the Good Doctor’s thoughts were arrested by the memory of a school mate slapping a shiny sliver of black vinyl onto the common room turntable, then grinning ear to ear as a raunchy harmonica version of Soul Limbo belted out through the stereo speakers. It was an irreverent piece of R&B; punky, zestful and hip.

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Soul Limbo – Split Rivitt (Part 2)

We respectfully dedicate these pages to the friends and family of Barney Jeffrey 1958-2008

Limbering up
Booker T. & The M.G.'s* - Soul-Limbo (1968, Vinyl) | DiscogsIn 1968, the soul label Stax broke away from its parent Atlantic. The first album to be released on the independent Stax label was Soul Limbo, featuring the instrumental of the same name, by“Unofficially the MGs were named after the band leader’s car”Booker T. & The MGs. The band’s leader was Booker T.Jones (Hammond Organ). Officially The MGs was short for The Memphis Group, comprising Steve Cropper (guitar), Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn (bass) and Al Jackson Jnr (drums). Unofficially the MGs were named after the band leader’s car. Booker T. himself has corroborated this piece of trivia. His earlier outfit was called the Triumphs. Clearly he had a penchant for British roadsters.

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Collectively of course, Booker T. & The MGs backed all the soul greats including Wilson PickettEddie Floyd and Sam & Dave. Indeed their names are often credited as the co-songwriters. In the 1960s, two white musicians working deep inside the heart of a black music phenomenon was unusual. Cropper and Dunn later formed the nucleus of the Blues Brothers Band.

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Soul Limbo – Split Rivitt (Part 3)

We respectfully dedicate these pages to the friends and family of Barney Jeffrey 1958-2008

The Venue, London

Split the bill
‘We did start a studio album together, but I wasn’t happy with what was going on so I walked out. They said they’d produce it themselves. I told them, you’ll see what happens, knowing full well they were unaware of all the pitfalls. Mark ‘Harpdog’ Hughes also played Chromatic. He was a normal kind of guy. Probably the quietest and most sensible band member. My studio notes show he was playing through a Shure Echo microphone. I think we added more harp on top and bounced it all down. I seem to remember asking him to harmonise and layer it. We were aiming at our own wall of sound. I think the end result stands on its own merit without impinging on the original.’

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‘The track never truly got the exposure it deserved because the distributor, Pinnacle, got into financial difficulty. But it was on BBC Radio 1’s A list and got a lot of airplay. In fact it charted briefly in the top 20. I don’t know how the track was chosen originally. I have always been a big Booker T. fan, so maybe I had something to do with it. Anyway I love off-the-wall stuff. I once recorded the Dambusters Theme with a Punk Band and tried to sell it to the Germans. It didn’t get very far.’ (more…)