Mon. Nov. 29, 2021

The Bar-Kays – Son Of Shaft

This Beat Is Mine! (*) The Bar-Kays – Son Of Shaft (Volt)

I couldn’t resist sending you this following your presentation of 10 essential Funk jams a few hours ago. A feature of yours which brought me back to so many souvenirs of my early 20’s.
Damn it, more than 40 years have gone and to me it still fels as if it was yesterday. I happened to be among the 110,000 + attendees of the Wattstax Festival at the LA Coliseum. This was a few days before doing my military obligations in Germany where I’m still living nowadays.

I guess I never felt anything like that during my entire life. I mean such a signification for us Afro-Americans altogether as one up there. And such an energy on stage, with The Bar-Kays among others taking us to cloud nine with their answer to label mate Isaac Hayes‘s ‘Shaft’.

I’m so thankful for the reminder you brought and hope my humble contribution will just reach you on time. ‘Son Of Shaft’, that’s just how each of us could feel there!
Once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

What’s the value of your vinyl record?

This Beat Is MineThis Beat Is Mine! (*)
Once in a week (on Wednesdays), we leave you at the command of IDMW
For this to happen, nothing’s more easy… What you’ve just got to do is drop us a line while using our contact form and let us know about your favorite piece of music (*), along with a review explaining what it suggests you and why people should dig it. And the best of it will be given a publication with your credit the week after.

With warm thanks to Munich-based correspondent, Joe Gibb, for this week’s suggestion…

Gladly welcoming yours to be published next Wednesday. On your marks!

The Bar-Kays came to light back in the mid-60’s in Memphis, TN. First as a studio session group, backing major artists at Stax Records. They eventually delivered their debut-single – ‘Soul Finger’ – back in April 1967. That same year seeing them playing as the backing band of Otis Redding. On Dec. 10, 1967, the latter, four members of the band – Ronnie Caldwell (electric organ), Carl Cunningham (drums), Phalon Jones (saxophone), Jimmie King (guitar) – and their partner, Matthew Kelly, died when their airplane crashed into Lake Monona, WI. This while attempting to land at Truax Field, next to Madison where they were scheduled to play their next concerts.
Trumpeter Ben Cauley was the only survivor of the crash. Meanwhile bassist James Alexander was on another flight. As the plane carrying Redding held only seven passengers.

Alexander and Cauley reformed the band. Recruiting Ronnie Gorden (organ) Willie Hall (drums), Harvey Henderson (saxophone), Michael Toles (guitar) and later Larry Dodson (vocals). Even though their line-up came thru various modifications along with time.

The Bar-Kays backed almost everybody at Stax, including Isaac Hayes on his 1969 ‘Hot Buttered Soul’ album.

All in all, the Bar-Kays released 21 albums with their latest – ‘House Party’ – back in 2007. Thus delivering an impressive bunch of gems in the history of contemporary music. From late 60’s Psychedelic Rock to 70’s Funk and 80’s Electro Boogie. With the first comin’ to mind being the electrifying ‘Son Of Shaft’. But also ‘Too Hot To Stop’ not to mention ‘Shake Your Rump To The Funk’ which marked their arrival on Mercury back in 1976. Stax eventually comin’ to release the infectious ‘Holy Ghost’ in 1978. That same year seeing them delivering ‘Shine’ and ‘Shut The Funk Up’ for their ‘new’ label. Then getting into some P-Funk-ish vibes on ‘Body Fever’ two years after.
Other tracks worth the check including the boiling hot ‘She Talks To Me With Her Body’, ‘Sexomatic’ and ‘Your Place Or Mine’. With ‘Struck On You’ seeing them flirting with Go-Go back in 1988.

The Bar-Kays went to suffer another loss back in 1984. This when their guitarist, 19-year-old Marcus Price, was shot during an attempted robbery in Memphis. Price was leaving a rehearsal session when three men approached him, demanding his belongings. One of them placed a gun to his back. A struggle ensued, and Price was shot. He died at the Regional Medical Center shortly afterward. His murder remains unsolved. And tragedy struck again soon. This with the passing of the group’s long-time producer and manager, Allen A. Jones, of a heart attack on May May 05, 1987, aged 46.
Trumpeter Ben Cauley sadly died in Memphis on Sept. 21, 2015, at the age of 67.

James Alexander‘s son is the award-winning Rapper and record producer Phalon (‘Jazze Pha’ Alexander), named after Phalon Jones, who died in the 1967 plane crash. Phalon is himself responsible for the oustanding ‘Rising To The Top’, from his 1990 album of the likes, and ‘Dance Floor Of Life’.

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