Memphis Gold is the stage name of one Chester Chandler, whose introduction to the guitar came at the tender age of four(!). By age eight he was playing for change on Beale Street, and has been gigging steadily (barring an extended turn in the Navy) ever since. He now works primarily up and down the east coast; somewhere along the line he's established a friendship with DC's Bobby Parker, who guests on this, Chester's recording debut.
Anyone familiar with Mr. Parker's work - he released two excellent discs on the now-sadly-defunct Black Top label - will know exactly what to expect with "Memphis Gold." Slippery funk predominates, with lots of throbbing bass and electric piano to back up stinging, often tortuously complex guitar leads. In other words, there's not a lot of hard-core blues here, and the disc could as easily be filed under soul, funk, or dance categories. The leadoff, "Early Early," rides a southern soul groove that could only come from Memphis; "I Ain't No Gentleman" is a twelve-bar, but there's an urban edge that overrides the blues and carries it into funk territory. "Standin' By The Highway" with its vaguely cheesy keys, is pure seventies disco, and both "Ernies Place" and "Bedroom Mumba" that follow are guaranteed to keep the dance floor hopping. (A mirror ball would be suitable accessory for all three cuts). "Mississippi Woman," perhaps the bluesiest track here, features busier bass and drums than one might otherwise expect, though the guitar work is gut-wrenching; "Got To Get My Hat" is straight back to the disco with a Commodores-style rhythm track. "Too Slick" has some nice harmonica but is just that, too slick; "Whole Lotta Woman" tries to be a straight shuffle, but again too-busy bass work take it out of blues territory and into the dance club; "Lil' Lucy," the closer, is a bit schizophrenic, with a spoken intro that quickly leads to another funky outing, with the drummer riding the high hat in ways we haven't heard since those dark "disco sucks" days.
While there are charms aplenty to be found here, anyone looking for a solid blues outing will be disappointed. And I suspect that even it's danceability is dated relative to most of what gets played for the booty-shakers these days. Still, for all that there's much to like, with solid playing and tight arrangements throughout, and I know that with some airplay this'll find a market. Not my cup of tea, though.
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