Soul Limbo - the sound of cricket

Soul Limbo - the sound of cricket

The BBC stopped televising cricket in 1999, which is a bit of a shock - time flies.  For most British kids at this time, three tunes summed up summer: ice cream vans, Wimbledon tennis coverage and cricket coverage BBC theme music.  For me the cricket theme titled Soul Limbo, recorded in 1968 wins hands down.  The ultimate sports instrumental Soul Limbo was recorded by Booker T and the M.G's of Green Onions fame.

Besides listening out of context the Wimbledon tennis theme just sounds a bit BBC orchestra. Soul Limbo sounds brilliant with any sport and the M.G's recorded some of the best soul music ever, be it as a backing group for Stax records legends or as a band in their own right. 

Booker T Jones was something of a child prodigy and by the age of 17 worked  as a staff musician for Stax Records in Memphis Tennessee.  By 1962 Booker T had other 'staff' musicians around him and being the Stax house band recorded as the backing band for musicians such as: Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Rufus Thomas, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas and Albert King to name a few.

Booker T's band were named the M.G's after Stax Record producer Chip Moman's British M.G sports car.  For years this was refuted by Stax, not wanting to get sued the record label claimed the M.G stood for; Memphis Group.  There was also a Stax backing band called The Triumphs also after the British sports car manufacturer. 

On the sleeve notes of their first major hit which is the most mod instrumental ever 'Green Onions' it reads: 

"For everyone who has been mystified by the billing used by Booker T. & The M.G.s the explanation is quite simple. "MG" stands for Memphis Group". 

Booker T corrected this as recently as 2012 when he was a guest on the TV Late Show with David Letterman.

In the 1960's there were so many talented musicians walking the streets of Memphis and Clarksdale, hanging out at; Sun, Stax studios and Juke joints. There are tales of individuals being pulled in off the street to play on records in the easily accessible studios. This was the case for a young Isaac Hayes who played cow bells on Soul Limbo, which when you listen to the song is some serious cow bell action.

I've had the privilege of visiting most of the iconic record studios in the USA (cowbell clang!!): Muscle Shoals and Fame in Alabama, Chess in Chicago, Cosimo Matassa's Storyville Launderette in New Orleans and Sun Studios also in Memphis.  All are worth visiting in their own right if you are into soul music and R & B history, but the feeling from Stax was it was a real hang out good time spot. So much so that it must have been tough on occasion to get tracks down on tape.

Going back to those pre-1999 summer memories Booker T & the M.G's Soul Limbo was the perfect sound for test cricket. The playing flare of the West Indies team and the  "they don't like it up em'" banter between England & Oz it was four days of televised hanging out in the sun.  Nowadays the match is all over in a day with TV pay per view, neon balls and muzak.

Check out Soul Limbo here on the Anglozine Smashed Blocked playlist

 Stax Wall

 Stax since 1957

The first and last time I've taken a photograph in the loo's

Steve Croppers Telecaster guitar 

Booker T Jones Hammond organ


If you do go to Stax eat at The Flying Catfish for breakfast, lunch and dinner



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