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Memphis the Band | Last of the Cadillac Days

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Last of the Cadillac Days

by Memphis the Band

"Last of the Cadillac Days recalls the ragged beauty and bittersweet twang of influences like Neil Young and Tom Petty." Derek Stills, Praxis Magazine "The rough-hewn-soul side of roots rock, a la The Band and Little Feat." The Music Monitor
Genre: Rock: Roots Rock
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Last of the Cadillac Days
3:28 $0.99
2. 45 Rekkid
2:58 $0.99
3. Sunshine
5:09 $0.99
4. Newsberry Street
3:34 $0.99
5. Prison Yard
6:41 $0.99
6. Even the Kings
4:02 $0.99
7. Shaking Off the Cold
4:41 $0.99
8. Sunday
4:23 $0.99
9. Take It Uptown
4:20 $0.99
10. Barefoot and Blinded
4:54 $0.99
11. Stories
2:55 $0.99
12. Reprise
1:29 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Last Of The Cadilac Days
Memphis The Band
Dec 18, 2006 at 09:56AM

This was originally written as a review of "Down Home In The Southland" by Memphis, The Band, and while I no longer write music reviews I wanted to make sure my favorite local bands made it into the Shoppes Blog.

My first thoughts were of a Southern band from the 1960’s, you might have heard of them-- Little Feat, and while the influence is there I decided there was more to Memphis, The Band than some cheap imitation of yet another Southern super group from the late 60’s and early 1970’s.

Their mix of traditional blues and rock guitar riffs mixed with the occasional piano or keyboard lead reminded me of all the wonderful things that made me fall in love with rock and roll when I was just a child, but then I can also hear the blues that have courted me, tempting me and leading me astray since I was dragged kicking and screaming into adulthood.

Some people try to describe Memphis as Americana but those people are fools. For lack of a better name Memphis uses the moniker “garage roots-rock.” Their influences lean more towards Tom Petty-- they love to tell stories with their poignant lyrics all penned by Scott Morgan-- than Southern rock classics like Skynard or the Alman Brothers, but I couldn’t help but think that perhaps Jerry Garcia has come back to life and brought a new style of music back from the grave with him.

Memphis plays music you can dance to. And music you can enjoy on a hot summer’s night sitting on the back porch while sipping mint juleps. Like Mint Juleps, you can only find the best music in the Southland and Memphis, The Band is some of the best the south has to offer.

“Lyrics, tell me about their lyrics,” I hear you saying it now. Their lyrics are full of hooks that pull harder than a five pound bass hung on a double-barbed hook behind three big rocks and last year’s Christmas tree thrown into the pond. In case you didn’t get the meaning, their lyrics pull you all over the place. “I bought a ticket on a plane that got shot down. I got robbed by a priest who was searching for his crown... I got a pocket full of dust and it’s looking like rain.”- Sunshine

“Goodbye to the castles on the new beach newspaper says you are out of reach. Gone and that’s the way it’s got to be... And the worlds don’t collide for the sake of a few tomorrows...” -Last Of The Cadillac Days

“She’s a walk in the dark better suited for the finer things and the chrome wheels on her ass are (spinning) in my dreams...” -Prison Yard

Nope, comparisons to Southern rockers, Dead Heads, Classic rockers, or even Little Feat doesn’t do justice to this musical miracle that is Memphis, The Band. Can you imagine the greatest influences from every band that was ever labeled Southern? I know it’s a bit of a stretch but that is Memphis, The Band. “I bought a used Chrysler because of its plates said Jesus Christ was a communist before he got saved...” -Even The Kings

Memphis takes me home to the Southland I knew when I was young then Memphis takes me to places I’ve never seen, not in my waking hours anyway. Scott Morgan, Jeremy Thompson, Dale Wheeler, Ryan Davis, Pete Lucey, and Shannon Culp are on their way to great things. People like Jimbo Mathis (Squirrel Nut Zippers Knockdown Society) Michael Stipe (REM, Two Dollar Pistols) and Chris Stamey (Ben Folds Five, Ryan Adams, and Whiskeytown) don’t hitch their wagons to dead horses and they’re betting their hands on Memphis, The Band.

Last Of The Cadillac Days was recorded at Rick Miller’s Kudzu Ranch in Mebane, North Carolina. (Rick Miller is the driving force behind Southern Culture On The Skids-- an act every musician should witness before they ever set foot on stage.) And was also recorded at Judy Woodall’s Back Home Studios in Rougemont, North Carolina, the place where The North Mississippi All-Stars recorded their first album.

poetry and entertainment by Billy Jones, AKA: Billy The Blogging Poet and friends

Grant Britt, ESP Magazine, April 9, 2003
"It's got the gut bucket thump and twang that makes it rock hard."

Jeri Rowe, Go Triad, May 1, 2003
"This is beautiful stuff in all its ragged, raise-your-glass glory."

The Music Monitor, May, 2003
"...A pretty good sound, one that's on the rough-hewn soul side of roots rock."

Memphis the Band
Last of the Cadillac Days ***** (Five Stars)
Review by Jeri Rowe, Greensboro News & Record, GoTriad

There are times in your life when you discover a good book, a good bartender, or a good jukebox and you feel lucky for your good fortune. Add Memphis the Band's "Last of the Cadillac Days" to that list.

The band's 12 song CD has the loose-jam feel of The Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street," with Dale Wheeler's sweet slide guitar and the nice touches of Pete Lucey's organ. And no wonder. Jimbo Mathus, a Mississippi native who learned about the blues from Charlie Patton's daughter, produced "Last of the Cadillac Days" at Kudzu Ranch, a Mebane garage converted into a studio by Rick Miller of Southern Culture on the Skids. Chris Stamey, an architect of the 1980s Southern pop sound, mixed the disc at his Chapel Hill studio.

Memphis, which plays June 28 at The Blind Tiger, will hold a CD release party Saturday at Chapel Hill's Local 506 with Mathus and his Knockdown Society.

The find on this CD is the point-counterpoint singing of husband and wife Scott and Shannon Morgan. Both attack the songs with the strength of good whiskey. Shannon Morgan croons and scoops into her notes like that famous diva nicknamed Pearl. Meanwhile, her husband has a dusty, late-call lilt that fits his songs like blooming dogwoods in spring.

And this guy can write. As in "Sunday": "Take the man from the city and put him in the woods/It's like barbed wire around his brain." Or in "Stories": "Staring at your blue eyes/Caught between the traffic and the lights and some place between your soul/Howling at the new moon just like two crazy kids on the juice."

This is beautiful stuff in all its ragged, raise-your-glass glory.

Cadillac Days puts Memphis in fast lane
Memphis the Band

Don't go slapping an Americana tag on Memphis. That's Memphis the Band, not the city. This Memphis operates out of Chapel Hill and calls their sound "garage roots rock." Or at least most of them do. Guitarist Scott Morgan says he's okay with the Americana label, but it doesn't set well with the other band members.

"Oh no, I like being associated with it," says Morgan. "It's more the drummer, Jeremy Thompson, who did the PR work. He felt a lot of the Americana stuff was being put under more of the folk music genre, or newgrass, and we're not really in that vein, not now. So we went to the roots rock, roots covering a lot of ground in itself."

Maybe too much ground for some critics, who seem to be confused as to the origins of Memphis's sound. Those who think that Southern rock is the heartbeat of this music need to get in out of the sun and lay off the Skynyrd juice.

"I did a radio interview a couple of years back, and they (talked about) my classic Southern rock style," says Morgan. "And I had to say, `I don't like the description Southern rock, but I am Southern.'" The guitarist says that the closest he got to classic Southern rock is growing up listening to classic rock in the South. And as far as that genre's influence on him, he says when he sits down to write, he "might have Tom Petty in mind sometimes, but not always. But Tom Petty, it's hard to call him Southern rock."

The only Southern element evident in most of Memphis's music is in Morgan's voice, which resembles Black Crowes front man Chris Robinson, a comparison that Morgan says he's heard since early on in his career. Wife Shannon adds Bonnie Bramlett-style vocals for a '70s era Delaney and Bonnie feel on two cuts, "45" and "Sunshine," from the band's latest release, Last Of the Cadillac Days.

But the music is not that easy to pin down. Morgan says that the new album is "sort of along the lines of rock. I like Americana rock but I can't get everybody else to agree on that." It's got the gut bucket thump and twang that makes it rock hard, but lacks the sneering, swaggering posture that most hard rockers adopt. The garage label seems more apt, conveying a rougher rock sound while still remaining independent. "It can be rougher, it's not polished," Morgan admits somewhat grudgingly. "Garage may be a rough term, but it may fit."

The job of helping the vehicle fit in the garage fell to ex-Squirrel Nut Zipper and Knockdown Society founder/ frontman Jimbo Mathus, who produced and recorded the album. Morgan says he was nervous about working with Mathus at first, but once he met him and found out how relaxed and laid back he was, it made things easy.

"He brought a lot," says the guitarist. "He brought a lot of tricks. The first track, `Cadillac,' the wicked guitar sounds you hear over everything, that came from almost an hour of lining up amps. He had the freaking things turned up to overdrive." Mathus also contributed his string skills to the album, playing sitar on the cut "Sunshine."

To get a down-home flavor in the mix, the album was recorded at Southern Culture on the Skids' Rick Miller's Kudzu Ranch in Mebane, and with Mathus busy orchestrating the musicians and "running around adjusting a lot of stuff, it was a very good time," Morgan relates.

This is the band's third album, and the guitarist says that he's learned a lot since they started as a duo in Chapel Hill in '97 with cousin Jeremy Thompson on drums. Since then, bassist Ryan Davis, Pete Lucey on piano, organ and accordion, Dale Wheeler on lead and rhythm guitar, and wife Shannon have been added.

Memphis is serious about the business of building their rock garage. And with Jimbo Mathus building the framework, and Cris Stamey doing the final materials mix, Memphis will be standing for a long time to come.

Music Monitor (Review)
The first thing I noticed about Chapel Hill-based six-piece Memphis the Band is that their name, true to the band's stationery, really is Memphis the Band, as if they lost a copyright lawsuit with Memphis the city in Tennessee. The second thing I noticed is that, as showcased on their brand new Last of the Cadillac Days (produced by Jimbo Mathus of the Squirrel Nut Zippers and the Knockdown Society) they have a pretty good sound going. One that's one the rought-hewn-soul side of roots rock, a la The Band and Little Feat. And Shannon Culp's barroom banshee harmonies may be the deal-breaker for some people, but they work for me.

reviews -- Matt Pierce

Last of the Cadillac Days plays like a monumental ode to
sweat -- that ever-present glaze hanging on skin and air
anywhere east of the Mississippi and below the Mason
Dixon line, in honky-tonks and bars, on hippies and
yuppies, in cities and small towns alike. This is the stuff that pours from sultry R&B grooves, bucking organ-and-guitar swagger, ripe jam-band festivals headlined by Widespread Panic and every other Southern musical legacy from the past eighty years or so, although Memphis the Band are especially well-versed in the first three, all of which are pretty evenly distributed across ...Cadillac Days's length.
"Last of the Cadillac Days" and "Forty Five Rekkid" strut
like country-friend blues boys in overalls and quickly
demonstrate the band's desire to rock out while keeping an
eye on its roots -- in the honky-tonk piano of the first song and the electric guitar twang of the second. "Sunshine" psychs out a bit with the introduction of a sitar alongside its blues guitar; "Prison Yard" is even more overtly experimental, working up to a roughshod climax laced with gestural guitar solos and droning acoustic-electric feedback.
Thankfully, the album leaves off any Grateful Dead-style
jam-sessions, content simply to spruce up tracks like
"Sunday" and "Reprise" with baked goods rather than
dragging tracks out past the seven- or eight-minute mark.
The results are refreshing for both the blues-and-gospel
and cannabis-and-Tevas idioms from which the band
draws, giving both a new slant without sounding forced. In
other words, Last of the Cadillac Days might stick like a t-shirt worn in August, but it never smells, and there's always air-conditioning around the corner.



to write a review

grant wolslagel

my favorite local band.....Memphis rocks!
I'm fortunate to live in their playing area and have been following them for a long time....they play great, energized music with great variations of rhythm and powerful lyrics! Also, the band members are all great, friendly, talented musicians that I have been fortunate enough to get to know a little! Thanks to all their hard work and dedication to giving us all.....The Best!