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Local Record Reviews

Memphis music archaeologists provide the soundtrack foryour next house party.

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LIVE AT R.C.'S PLACE

BIG MOE

(JONES RECORDS)

From the same crate-digging heroes who created 2003's great black-rock compilation Chains + Black Exhaust comes another potentially hard-to-find but impossible-to-stop-playing platter of vintage obscurities, this one distinguished from its predecessor by being all soul and all Memphis. The modus operandi here is the same as on the earlier collection: no track listings, no liner notes, minimal -- and minimally reliable -- explanation. It's a musical puzzle left for record-shop sleuths to complete.

This is allegedly a set spun by a local deejay (Big Moe) at a Memphis dive (R.C.'s Place) before, after, or between sets of that night's band (Joe Perkins & The Memphians), probably from the very late '60s judging from the music. Regardless of whether this is an actual of-the-period deejay set or a loving recreation, you couldn't ask for a more foolproof party disc or a better excuse to get your own hands grubby digging for vinyl treasures. The sounds range from gutbucket soul to the Age of Aquarius and touch on pretty much every Southern soul variation in between. Some tracks feel unmistakably like Stax or Hi even if you don't recognize the specific record; others are harder to pin down.

Late in the mix, Wendy Rene's "After Laughter (Comes Tears)" is followed a couple of tracks later by the Charmels' "As Long As I've Got You." Both were '60s Stax singles later included on the nine-disc The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968. But in 1994, both songs were sampled on the Wu-Tang Clan's classic debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). If this isn't really "Big Moe" spinning back in the day, this pairing of songs is what gives the game away. Or -- who knows? -- maybe Wu-Tang mastermind the RZA is hip to Big Moe. Currently available at Shangri-La and Goner Records in Midtown or online via TurntableLab.com. Get it while you still can. -- Chris Herrington

Grade: A

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