The Bar-Kays: Larry "D" Dodson (vocals); Harvey "Joe" Henderson (saxophone); Frank Thompson (trombone); Mark Bynum, Winston Stewart (keyboards); James Alexander (bass instrument); Sherman Guy, Michael Beard, Willie Hall (drums).
Liner Note Author: Amy Linden.
The Bar-Kays began their career in the mold of the Mar-Keys and Booker T. and the M.G.s, playing cool, funky, R&B instrumentals for Memphis's Stax-Volt label. By the mid-1970s, however, the band had pushed its sound to keep up with the times, riding fierce funk grooves embellished by squiggly synthesizer and electronically manipulated vocals. That the Bar-Kays sounded suddenly closer to Parliament than Sam & Dave seemed to suit the band just fine, because their singles from the late-'70s, collected here on THE BEST OF THE BAR-KAYS: THE MILLENNIUM COLLECTION, proved their most commercially successful.
Most of the tracks included here broke the R&B Top 10, including the mid-tempo thump of "Shake Your Rump to the Funk" and the propulsive electro-groove of "Move Your Boogie Body." The lessons the band learned in gritty soul and pop accessibility while at Stax served them well during their tenure at Mercury Records (where these songs were recorded), and the air-tight instrumental interplay and souful vocals keep the energy of every tune at fever pitch. As an overview of the Bar-Kays finely crafted and totally pleasurable hard funk period, THE BEST OF is a sure bet.