John Paul Keith – The Rhythm of the City [IMPORT BLACK VINYL] – New LP
Pure Memphis from John Paul Keith, the whole history of the city and the influences from all the classic Memphis labels showing in the songs, backed with horns and a backbeat to punch it home.
Whenever American music doesn’t know what to do with itself, it gets back to what Memphis gave us, a sound that showed up in so many settings and so many styles. While the sounds might be the mix of a movement that grew like a tree across the map of the United States, up from its Delta and New Orleans roots and developed in so many cities and black communities of the Great Migration, so much of the foundation was formed in Memphis, and sound would show up so many places, providing the punch and reminders that music so often needed, in the world of funk of course, up in Chicago and Detroit and even helping Sly Stone change music forever, but Memphis also helped remind the cities of the East Coast how to get their rock and roll back to where it belonged, giving the music some punch, drive and rhythm, teaching the kids how to “Walk the Dog,” and infusing the sounds with Memphis focus to help launch the underground rock and punk of the 1970s. When the blues is getting excessive, add some Memphis punch and focus. When the pop is getting limp, add some Memphis soul. When country rock got boring, punch it up with some Memphis drive. Memphis rockabilly showed up so many places, out to folks like X in Los Angeles, Robert Gordon in New York City, so many outfits of the 1980s, and adding horns to your rock n roll clearly owes a lot to Memphis, making its way into unlikely places like Fear in L.A. or X-Ray Spex in the U.K., and the driving Memphis-style horn charts didn’t just help power the garage bands of the 1960s, and Chicago bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s, it made its way into hard rock too: when the Alice Cooper Group didn’t want to play the blues like everyone else, the band added showtunes and horror soundtracks to the rock n roll, but the main reason it was so enjoyable was because it punched it home with the power of Memphis, even giving us hard rock with Memphis-style horn charts, and so many bands took cues from those examples, from Bowie and through the 1970s and into the 1980s. When hard rock bands in the late 1970s weren’t going to go new wave or metal, and didn’t want to descend further into the pomp-rock excess, the lessons of Memphis gave them direction. Memphis showed up everywhere, from glam rock to pub rock, from garage rock to punk rock...and Mr. Keith brings the sounds back to his home, gets it back to its roots without sounding like a museum piece. While the set remains seamless and cohesive, it slinks and shuffles between styles, sequenced wonderfully, The Rhythm of the City indeed, the city mentioned in the title obviously referring to his hometown Memphis, grabbing you with the distinctively Memphis brand of pop on “The Sun is Going to Shine Again,” keeping the grip with the title track, emerging from the blues with the horn-driven "Keep On Keep On," dipping down for the bluesy soul of "I Don't Wanna Know,” back up for that Memphis version of power pop on "Ain't Done with You Yet," shuffling off toward Kansas City with "If I Had Money," all the cuts hugely successful, the simple pop songs really hitting home, really helping to show what middle American artists like the Everly Brothers and The Box Tops did for American music, this album sometimes backed with female vocals, usually using horns and always a backbeat to punch it home, the whole history of the city and the influences from all the classic Memphis labels showing in the songs on stellar set. -- winch (green noise)
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Wild Honey Records is very happy to announce John Paul Keith’s 5th album ‘The Rhythm Of The City’! “I was at my home in Memphis one evening and heard a car pass by blasting Al Green's ‘Love and Happiness,’ which was recorded just a couple miles away,” says singer-songwriter John Paul Keith. “I was struck by how Howard Grimes' drumming just seems to embody something about the feel and the pace of life for me here. I thought to myself, ‘Howard Grimes is the rhythm of the city.’ My next thought was, ‘That sounds like a title track.’” Conjuring up his own unique musical mélange –a sweet spot where the sound of Sun blues, Stax soul, and Hi R&B all meet – it’s a record steeped in the geography and culture of Memphis, which Keith has called home for the last 15 years. “The vibe came about organically from playing Beale Street and Graceland and working with horn sections more frequently the last few years,” says Keith. Keith’s fifth solo album – and his first self-produced effort – 'The Rhythm of the City' finds him expanding his approach on a horn-heavy 10-song collection that’s in thrall to the classic sounds of Bluff City soul and rock and roll. The Rhythm of the City was recorded to tape at Electraphonic Studios, and engineered by Keith’s frequent collaborator, Scott Bomar (bandleader of the Bo-Keys, Don Bryant producer, and film composer for Dolemite Is My Name). “Rhythm confidently stakes its claim as Keith’s best album, with a mix of stinging love songs (“How Can You Walk Away”) halting heartbreakers (“I Don’t Wanna Know”), bluesy rambles (“If I Had Money”) and deep soul explorations (“How Do I Say No) that feel like instant classics.” (Bob Mehr, author, Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements)
For fans of: Reigning Sound, Stax Records, Wilco, Chuck Prophet, Sun Records, Motel Mirrors.
All songs written by John Paul Keith except "The Sun's Gonna Shine Again", written by John Paul Keith and Scott Bomar.
Produced by John Paul Keith
Executive producer: Ronny Russell
Engineered by Scott Bomar and Adam Hill and mixed by Scott Bomar at Electraphonic Recording, Memphis, TN
Mastered by Jim Demain
Horn arrangements on tracks 1, 2, 7, and 9 by Art Edmaiston
Horn arrangements on tracks 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10 by Marc Franklin
John Paul Keith: vocals, guitar
Tierinii Jackson: vocals
Tikyra Jackson: vocals
Matthew Wilson: bass, vocals
Danny Banks: drums, vocals
Al Gamble: organ, piano
Marc Franklin: trumpet
Art Edmaiston: tenor saxophone
Kirk Smothers: baritone saxophone
Archie “Hubbie” Turner: clavinet
Graphic design by Christopher Capelle
Cover photograph by Jim Herrington
Back photograph by Matthew Wilson
Interior photographs by Max Kaplan
Tierinii Jackson and Tikyra Jackson appear courtesy of Southern Avenue Music.