Willie Mitchell

Ooh Baby, You Turn Me On/Live at the Royal

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This two-on-one CD ought to be part of any serious soul or dance music collection. 1967's Ooh Baby -- also released as Soul Serenade -- was almost entirely instrumental, with a sound recalling King Curtis at his best; the playing is hot and the beat is infectious. Mitchell and his band, including Mabon Hodges on guitar, Leroy Hodges on bass, Charles Hodges on organ, and Charlie Chalmers on tenor sax, run the gamut of covers from Little Richard's "Slippin' And Slidin'," and King Curtis's magnificent "Soul Serenade," and Otis Redding's "Respect" to James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," all interpersed with enjoyable originals. The companion live tracks are well played and recorded, although they aren't cut together as a continuous performance, rather fading between tracks. The songs include "Mustang Sally," "My Girl," and "Soul Serenade" (which is identical to the cut on Ooh Baby), and given the closeness of the sound, the perfectly clean stereo separation, and the seemingly artificial sound of the audience, one might question just how "live" all (or any) of Live at The Royal really is. But it is fun.

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