KING CURTIS

pickwick33pickwick33 8,946 Posts
edited June 2005 in Music Talk
...no, not Curtis Mayfield, Kurtis Blow or even Little Joe Curtis, but King Curtis Ousley... "Today's special is Memphis soul stew...we sell so much of this, people wonder what we put in it...we're gonna tell you right now...first, I need half a cup of bass...then I need a pound of fatback drums...now I need four tablespoons of ballin' Memphis guitar (this gonna taste alright!)...just a little pinch of organ...now I need half a pint of horn...stir from the bottom and bring to a boil...THAT'S IT, THAT'S IT RIGHT THERE!" [/b] The above is almost the entire lyrical content of his 1967 hit "Memphis Soul Stew, " and it's been running through my mind all evening. I'll probably have to play it out the next time I deejay. Like most soul instrumentalists, King Curtis (who died in 1971) is far underrated - not adventurous enough for the jazz freaks, and overlooked by R&B fans who think all the best southern soul acts were singers. Don't fall into the trap of thinking his records were just background music for hip parties in the sixties, 'cause more than once he nailed it: "Memphis Soul Stew," "In The Pocket" (credited to the Kingpins, at least on this Atco 45 I have), "Changes," "Soul Twist," "Soul Serenade," "Jump Back," "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby," "Boss" (title sez it all). When he wasn't cranking out his own rekkids, he played sessions with the diversified likes of Aretha Franklin, Soupy Sales ("The Mouse" is fairly soulful considering it's by a middle-aged Jewish comedian), John Lennon, and Waylon Jennings (his first record). And Curtis had some pretty good pickers playing with HIM, including that classic Atlantic Records demolition crew of Chuck Rainey, Jerry Jemmott, Cornell Dupree, and on one album, Duane Allman. "DUH, do dese rekkids have any BREAKS?"Damifiknow! I don't know (or wanna know) shit from Shinola 'bout that! But I just thought I'd give this sax giant a little light, is all...And I gotta remember to pull out my copy of "Memphis Soul Stew" when I get home...
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  Comments


  • volumenvolumen 2,529 Posts
    No doubt this guy kicks ass. Didn't know he died so young!

  • Birdman9Birdman9 5,417 Posts
    His LPs for Prestige had some really nice soul jazz represented on those sides. I agree, he seems to be one of those guys who is seen as strictly background wallpaper these days, but really was a strong player on the soul scene back in the day.

  • johmbolayajohmbolaya 4,472 Posts
    Outside of his soul works, he did one of the best solos of the 1960's, found in The Doors' "Touch Me". I always liked his solo that was shown as a video on MTV, taken from "The Ed Sullivan Show". At the end, King Curtis takes the spotlight.



    Let's not forget his version of "Sing A Single Song", as credited to the Noble Knights. You can find a label scan on the Funky 16 Corners page. I had bought a comp with the song and I had heard this version of "Sing A Simple Song" before, I just wasn't aware it was King Curtis.

  • pickwick33pickwick33 8,946 Posts
    Outside of his soul works, he did one of the best solos of the 1960's, found in The Doors' "Touch Me". I always liked his solo that was shown as a video on MTV, taken from "The Ed Sullivan Show". At the end, King Curtis takes the spotlight.

    I think that was Curtis AMY, wasn't it? But I'm in agreeance, it is a great solo - I've seen that clip.


  • johmbolayajohmbolaya 4,472 Posts
    Outside of his soul works, he did one of the best solos of the 1960's, found in The Doors' "Touch Me". I always liked his solo that was shown as a video on MTV, taken from "The Ed Sullivan Show". At the end, King Curtis takes the spotlight.

    I think that was Curtis AMY, wasn't it? But I'm in agreeance, it is a great solo - I've seen that clip.


    Damn, so all these years I've been wrong? Oh well. Thank you for the correction.

  • SoulOnIceSoulOnIce 13,027 Posts
    I got this one not too far back:



    He actually does sing on this one, and according to the liner notes, not only plays the horn but the drums, piano & guitar on it as well!

    His 45 of "Whole Lotta Love" is a monster.

  • meshmesh 925 Posts
    damn, memphis soul stew is my shit. good call. first time i heard this track i literally envisioned him adding little ingredients to the track. guess thats the cook in me.

  • holmesholmes 3,532 Posts


    I have this one which I quite like, King Curtis also played the sax on a lot of the Coasters' stuff which I also like.

  • GrafwritahGrafwritah 4,184 Posts
    "DUH, do dese rekkids have any BREAKS?"
    ...
    And I gotta remember to pull out my copy of "Memphis Soul Stew" when I get home...

    But at least you can say with Memphis Soul Stew that yeah, it has breaks.

    That is a dope song, I'm pretty lazy but I actually bothered to mp3 that one.

  • KineticKinetic 3,738 Posts
    I just got an LP by the falconairs (some US airforce group) recently that has a pretty tasty cover of Mr Curtis' 'memphis soul stew.' It starts with different lyrics at the beginning and has pretty cool organ playing and such.

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    I like all his records. Check the song line up, if you like the songs you'll like the record.

    I once heard that the solo on respect was spliced in. Wexler felt the song needed an instumental bridge, found the solo which KC had recorded for his own lp and cut it in. Listen next time you hear respect, sounds plausable the solo really does not relate to the melody.

  • Strider79itStrider79it 1,176 Posts


    oh I can't believe it

    2 weeks ago I posted this

    http://soulstrut.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=crates&Number=350324&Forum=All_Forums&Words=dope&Match=Entire%20Phrase&Searchpage=3&Limit=100&Old=allposts&Main=350324&Search=true#Post350324

    nobody replied, even just to tell me my posts sucks...........

    as the impression would sing.... "you've been cheatin'...cheatin' on me"

  • pickwick33pickwick33 8,946 Posts
    "DUH, do dese rekkids have any BREAKS?"
    ...
    And I gotta remember to pull out my copy of "Memphis Soul Stew" when I get home...

    But at least you can say with Memphis Soul Stew that yeah, it has breaks.

    Even with Curtis talking all the way through it?

  • pickwick33pickwick33 8,946 Posts


    oh I can't believe it

    2 weeks ago I posted this

    http://soulstrut.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=crates&Number=350324&Forum=All_Forums&Words=dope&Match=Entire%20Phrase&Searchpage=3&Limit=100&Old=allposts&Main=350324&Search=true#Post350324

    nobody replied, even just to tell me my posts sucks...........

    as the impression would sing.... "you've been cheatin'...cheatin' on me"


    Oh, man, I'm so sorry! I totally missed that the first time around!

    Although to be honest, if you had actually put King Curtis' name in the subject line, maybe more people would have caught it?

    I gotta agree with you, Curtis' sax had too much personality to record with the hacks over at CTI. The Atco label was the right place for him to get his Instant Groove on.

  • LazerLazer 796 Posts
    His 45 of "Whole Lotta Love" is a monster.







    AMEN!!!! Listened to that a few times yesterday, w/breaks too.







    Holy Sh!t, they're playing this right now as background music for Minnesota Public Radio pledge drive. WIERD!

  • Birdman9Birdman9 5,417 Posts


    I gotta agree with you, Curtis' sax had too much personality to record with the hacks over at CTI.


    Hacks like Idris Muhammad, Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine?

  • luckluck 4,077 Posts


    I gotta agree with you, Curtis' sax had too much personality to record with the hacks over at CTI.


    Hacks like Idris Muhammad, Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine?

    Think he's talking about Creed Taylor & Co.

  • pickwick33pickwick33 8,946 Posts




    I gotta agree with you, Curtis' sax had too much personality to record with the hacks over at CTI.





    Hacks like Idris Muhammad, Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine?



    Think he's talking about Creed Taylor & Co.



    Exactly. That label smoothed out Grant Green, so Lord knows what they would have done with Curtis. But then again, I always considered Curtis more of a soul man anyway (his Prestige jazz albums notwithstanding).

  • Birdman9Birdman9 5,417 Posts


    I gotta agree with you, Curtis' sax had too much personality to record with the hacks over at CTI.


    Hacks like Idris Muhammad, Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine?

    Think he's talking about Creed Taylor & Co.

    Exactly. Curtis' rhythm & blues is better than CTI's cop-show themes, anyday.

    I think ultimately they both suffered from the same type of rote repetition, just in different directions. Each style and it's practitioner's fell into hackery, IMO, and hailing one over the other is damning with very faint praise.

    But I see yer point.


  • Strider79itStrider79it 1,176 Posts
    I'm one that think soul musc should ve been played in a certain style,

    it's just like as for the organists, that no matter their individual style, there are some riffs and licks that you will keep hearing again and again,no matter in which context....

    ..cause soul music IS that kind of playing.....

    when I draw the comparison with Funk and CTI , I was thinkin abt the intro of Memphis Soul Stew on the "Fillmore" concert........that intro is pure soul fire, very far from what hubbard & turrentine would play cause they were jazz-head...,grant green too, he has been a jazz head..........then they started playing soul jazz for commercial reasons,

    instead I think that King Curtis was in the same league of Otis Redding

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    I like all his records. Check the song line up, if you like the songs you'll like the record.

    I once heard that the solo on respect was spliced in. Wexler felt the song needed an instumental bridge, found the solo which KC had recorded for his own lp and cut it in. Listen next time you hear respect, sounds plausable the solo really does not relate to the melody.



    I broke this record ^^ out last night after writing this. Best soul record every?

    2 songs writen by King Curtis including Soul Serenade!

    4 songs writen by Aretha.

    2 songs writen by Sam Cooke.

    A Dan Penn Chips Moman song.

    Every cut a masterpiece.

    Curits was versitile, I am sure he could have recorded one of our favorite CTI records. More importantly he could have helped Atlantic capture the funk groove.

    Sorry I missed the first Curtis post. I must have skipped it because it was record related. [appropriate icon/]

    Dan

  • 33thirdcom33thirdcom 2,049 Posts
    So on point... He seems to be horribly overlooked as far as his soul and jazz contributions... I actually just found a King Curtis LP in a collection we just bought. Its beat to heall, crackkly etc, but it plays through, so it gets kept in the personal collection... THe album is a burner from start to finish though... Its King Curtis Plays The Memphis Hits?? something like that... have to go check... I have a bunch of his 45s as well... Never really run acorss anything weak by him...

  • I didn't know his last name was Ousley.. is he related to the other Ousley guy? Harold, maybe?

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    is he related to the other Ousley guy? Harold, maybe?

  • pickwick33pickwick33 8,946 Posts
    Curtis was versatile

    I once read an interview with Earl Scruggs, the bluegrass musician, talking about how he once met "B.B. King" at some festival, and he played a "yakety sax" and was after Earl all weekend to jam. While the thought of B.B. jamming with country musicians isn't farfetched (he once did a duet with George Jones), that yakety-sax reference makes me think he's referring to King Curtis (but getting the names mixed up).

    he could have helped Atlantic capture the funk groove.

    ...and when I spoke with Jimmy Castor some time back, he implied that one reason why Atlantic had signed him was because he played the sax and out of nostalgia, they thought he'd fill the void that Curtis left.

  • His 45 of "Whole Lotta Love" is a monster.[/b]

  • FlomotionFlomotion 2,391 Posts
    His 45 of "Whole Lotta Love" is a monster.[/b]
    Whole Lotta Love right here

  • bassiebassie 11,710 Posts




    I broke this record ^^ out last night after writing this. Best soul record every?

    2 songs writen by King Curtis including Soul Serenade!

    4 songs writen by Aretha.

    2 songs writen by Sam Cooke.

    A Dan Penn Chips Moman song.

    Every cut a masterpiece.

    Yes.

    My older copy was so mashed up, I bought the 180 gram recently - holleee shit! It is a beautiful beautiful record.
    Her version of Save Me is my favourite.

  • Cookout is one of my favorite cuts by him. slow burner and when the horn kicks in... watch out

  • oxnardcoreoxnardcore 141 Posts
    found the "jump back" 45 a couple years ago at the melrose swap... it has been getting increasingly cue burned from repeated plays ever since...
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