Contrary to conventional wisdom, Memphis didn't stop making soul music in 1975. It was no longer the epicenter of the soul universe (or of rock & roll, for that matter), but musicians didn't leave en masse after the shuttering of Stax in 1975. Sounds of Memphis, a studio owned by Gene Lucchesi that had a licensing deal with MGM during the early '70s, continued to churn out independent soul during the height of disco, and was sometimes lucky enough to land a single with an independent imprint but often stockpiled recordings by Memphis acts. Groove with a Feeling: Sounds of Memphis Boogie, Soul & Funk 1975-1985, an archival 2015 release from Ace, rounds up 19 of these tracks, all but one them unreleased. All the artists here are obscure -- the one responsible for "Do Your Thing" is unknown -- but the sounds are familiar, a mix of tight Memphis soul, neon-lit analog synths, slippery funk, chattering clavinets, and hints of protest, smooth soul, and nascent hip-hop. There are excellent singers here -- the Jacksonians do justice to the Spinners' "I'll Be Around" -- but the attraction here are the grooves, which are terribly addictive whether they bounce to the four-on-the-floor disco of Louis Williams' "Don't Fight It" or the all-synthesized rhythms of Lee Moore's "What's in the Dark," or exist somewhere between the two extremes (Moore's opening "You Can Bet I Can Get You Yet"). No exact dates exist for the individual tracks, but every cut is wonderfully evocative of an era when there still were local studios trying to chase trends and still making great music, even if nobody heard it at the time.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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