Review: Bo-Keys rely on vets for strong new album

The Bo-Keys, “Got To Get Back!” (Electraphonic)

The Bo-Keys not only extend the venerable Memphis tradition of recording instrumental rhythm & blues, the multi-generational band also employs several veterans who played on the original Stax and Hi label recordings that the Bo-Keys emulate.

The band’s first album in seven years, “Got To Get Back!” highlights contributions from players who toured and recorded alongside B.B. King, Al Green and Isaac Hayes, as well as trumpeter Ben Cauley, the lone surviving member of the Bar-Kays from a plane crash that also took the life of Otis Redding. Known as an instrumental group, the new album showcases several soul and blues vocalists who span the ages, including William Bell, Otis Clay and Charlie Musselwhite.

Perhaps it is the participation of so many veterans, or perhaps it is the passionate zeal of band leader Scott Bomar, but for one reason or another, the Bo-Keys present a muscular yet spare sound that captures the grit and grease of classic, horn-driven R&B. Where many revivalists pale compared to the originals, the Bo-Keys would have fit right in next to legendary Memphis musical crews the Bar-Kays and Booker T. & the M.G.’s.

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: On the title track, “Got to Get Back (To My Baby),” Otis Clay growls and roars against a rousing brass backdrop, charging through the pumping track with a sweaty ferociousness reminiscent of the late Wilson Pickett.

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