House Party

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House Party Review

by Steve Leggett

True success was a long time coming for the Bar-Kays, who started out as a sort of second-line studio band behind Booker T. & the MG's at Stax Records in Memphis. After releasing an instrumental hit, "Soul Finger," and becoming the backing band for Otis Redding, it appeared the group was on its way to the kind of success that the MG's had enjoyed. Then disaster struck. The plane crash that killed Redding and his road manager in 1967 also took the lives of four of the Bar-Kays. The group was rebuilt around surviving members Ben Cauley and James Alexander, but momentum (and so much more) had been lost. It wasn't until signing to Mercury Records in 1976 and moving in a more vocal-oriented funk direction that the hits really came, but the changing patterns of pop music moved on, as they always do, and the Bar-Kays seemed to be well on their way to being another nostalgia act, which is why this 2007 release is such a surprise and a delight. A thoroughly contemporary record with great sound, great songs, and plenty of dance attitude, House Party is simply wonderful. Check out "Sho-Nuff" and "Hollar If You Like That" and just try to write these guys off if you can. Trust me, you can't. House Party is a great comeback.

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