Alex Chilton & the Hi Rhythm Section – Boogie Shoes: Live on Beale Street
Though the legendary Memphis singer Alex Chilton doesn’t possess the deep voice he graced many Box Tops 60s hits with he still has showmanship. Opening with “Boogie Shoes,” with a masterful backup band the Hi Rhythm Section (Al Green, Ann Pebbles, Ike & Tina Turner, O.V. Wright & Otis Clay), Chilton & the band with no rehearsal add expertise. Recorded live at the New Daisy Theater (Memphis), the band’s actually tight in this unissued Oct. 7th, 1999 tribute concert (for Memphis musician Fred Ford).
According to notes Alex called out each song & the band obliged. By “Precious, Precious,” the Hi Rhythm Section is blaring with brass beauty. It doesn’t sound like a big audience, but the showcase should’ve motivated a studio LP. Unlike The Box Tops (though they covered great songs during their run) they seldom covered a classic soul song. They had it in their sound when they recorded songs like “I Must Be the Devil,” “Soul Deep,” & “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” But primarily it was a tight, groovy, excellent short classic original song like “The Letter.” (Before Joe Cocker).
Alex Chilton & the Hi Rhythm Section – Boogie Shoes: Live on Beale Street (Omnivore – Drops May 7) is a wonderfully recorded live show. 10 cuts — energetic, fiery & soulful. Chilton should’ve done more like this. He had the ideal voice & the Hi Rhythm Section was suited to this kind of performance.
Alex (guitar) is joined by Mabon “Teenie” Hodges (guitar), Charles Hodges (keyboards), Leroy Hodges (bass), Archie “Hubie” Mitchell (keyboards), Howard Grimes (drums) with the horns: Jim Spake (tenor sax), Ronald Kirk Smothers (baritone sax) & Scott Thompson (trumpet).
By “Kansas City,” the sound’s exceptional. The groove laid down by all the musicians & Chilton is fun, fun, fun. Scott’s trumpet wails like a banshee.
The entire show covers classic rock, soul, pop, R&B. They never emulate originals but decorate them with ingenuity. Even Little Richard’s classic “Lucille,” is rendered with the fire necessary to maintain its genuine intention. Cool sax solos huff & puff along with coal-driven drum steam. A blistering guitar solo sparks & when the entire band smokes it’s locomotive stuff.
I was surprised at the sound of the recordings since its near-studio quality. Chilton is authoritative on “Big Boss Man,” (a hit for Jimmy Reed & Elvis Presley). I couldn’t find one weak tune on this set. Ok, maybe The Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go,” didn’t have the charm & energy of the original. Chilton does try to put his own spin on it & the horns accentuate nicely. It’s a sparkling performance.
Produced by David Less the 44-minute CD is available @ Amazon & https://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/boogieshoes/