Memphis the Band – Last of the Cadillac Days

Memphis the Band
Last of the Cadillac Days

This is the second release from North Carolina’s own Memphis the Band and their brand of Southern-tinged rock. This disc was produced by ex-Squirrel Nut Zipper Jimbo Mathus, and Chris Stamey, formerly of the DB’s, also mixes the disc. The band stays true to their Southern upbringing as they constantly try to find that greasy Southern-rock groove. Scott Morgan and his wife provide vocals here, and Scott has a voice very reminiscent of Chris Robinson but with more of a Southern twang, while is wife accompanies on many of the tracks.
The title track, which also leads off the disc, has a very interesting feel and groove to it with Scott Morgan’s spoken-style vocals. There is a down-and-dirty, greasy groove enhanced by some great keyboard work provided by Pete Lucey. Morgan’s vocals spew forth with a noticeable drawl, while the guitars and keys are the highlights to the tune. “Newsberry” revels in its Southern rock heritage, driven along by pumping organ and some very nice slide guitar. Morgan’s vocals here are much more focused and forceful, though it loses some of its momentum when the vocals try to carry the song.
This disc is a mixed bag because the band doesn’t always connect well musically and causes many of the songs to lag behind. The band really hits some low points with songs like “Forty Five Rekkid” and “Sunshine.” The former never clicks musically or vocally as there is some rather distracting vocals by Shannon Morgan, while the latter has a little groove but ultimately falls flat, even with Jimbo Mathus’ sitar playing. The disc still has some good spots left, though, with “Even the Kings” and “Sunday.” The former has some greasy keyboards and some nicely played blues-guitar licks, while the latter uses a great combination of Morgan’s vocals and funk styled guitar to great affect.
Memphis the Band clearly has ties to Southern rock and the background down pat by this time. Unfortunately, for every groove the band hits there will be a misstep right around the corner. The production on this CD is crisp and very slick, which doesn’t really play well to the band’s style. When the group hits a groove, they are able to show their skill and range, but this does not happen that often. If the band gets on the same page they have the ability to hit some worthwhile grooves, it just doesn’t happen here.