Heartaches By The Number
The Bo-Keys are a soul/jazz band from Memphis, Tennessee. They were originally formed in 1998 by bassist Scott Bomar to be a backup band for the legendary Stax artist and songwriter Sir Mack Rice; best known for “Mustang Sally”. The Bo-Keys were comprised of veteran Memphis sidemen who earned their stripes backing O.V. Wright, Rufus Thomas, the Bar-Kays, and Al Green. In 2004 The Bo-Keys released their own debut, “The Royal Sessions”, recorded in Memphis at Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studio. In 2010 the Bo-Keys were featured on Cyndi Lauper’s Grammy nominated “Memphis Blues”. The following year they released “Got to Get Back” an original but retro sounding album with guest vocalists. In 2013 Scott Bomar produced John Nemeth’s “Memphis Grease”, also featuring the Bo-Keys, and it won the Soul Blues Album of The Year at the 2015 Blues Music Awards.
Today the Bo-Keys consist of producer, bassist Bomar; Howard “Bulldog” Grimes, drums; Joe Restivo, guitar; Archie “Hubbie” Turner, piano; Al Gamble, organ; Marc Franklin and Scott Thompson, trumpets; Kirk Smothers and Art Edmaiston, saxophones; and Percy Wiggins, vocals. The recording captures the classic country meets soul intersection which is the essence of the Memphis and Muscle Shoals sounds.
“Heartaches By The Number” was written by country-music songwriter Harlan Howard and a hit single for Guy Mitchell in 1959. The vocal is sung by special guest Don Bryant who recorded for Hi Records. Restivo takes a nice guitar solo.
“Set Me Free” includes a narrative by Wiggins that sets up his vocal. This is a great story song. “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” is the Hank Williams classic.
“The Longer You Wait” was written by and first recorded by Merle Haggard in 1966. Haggard passed just 23 days before the release of this album. It’s inclusion, I’m sure, was meant as a tribute. “I Threw It All Away” is the Bob Dylan classic originally included on his album “Nashville Skyline” released in 1969.
“Don’t Take Her She’s All I Got” features background vocals by the Masqueraders also known as Susan Marshall and Reba Russell.
“Learned My Lesson in Love” was written by Bomar along with Franklin, Grimes, and Wiggins. “I Hope You Find What Your Looking For” was written by Scott Bomar and it has a definite Tex-Mex sound similar to that of The Sir Douglas Quintet. “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” was originally recorded by Freddy Fender in 1959. It was re-recorded by Fender in 1975 when it sold over a million copies. Wiggins’ version is right on the money too. The album closes with “Last Date” recorded by many including The Ventures, and Al Hirt.
The Bo-Keys are the best band in the soul/jazz genre. Wiggins again proves himself a great vocalist. This is recommended listening.