In The Midnight Hour / The Song That Changed The Stax Sound !!!!! FORUM: Archive - Beginning April 17, 2003: In The Midnight Hour / The Song That Changed The Stax Sound !!!!!
Top of pageBottom of page   By Chancellor of Soul ( on Tuesday, February 04, 2003 - 06:00 pm:

1963-64 was the year for dances, in the birth
of the soul era of the 1960's. Kids everywhere
during these years were either, Monkey-ing,
Swimming, Twine-ing, Uncle Willy-ing and of course
Jerking. The Jerk was hot new dance around late
1964 and quite few records released, capitalize
on the dance like so many others..........Groups
such as The Miracles who had, " Come On Do The
Jerk" b/w " Baby Don't You Go", The Gypsies who
had, " Jerk It", on the Old Town label and a
group from the L.A. area called "The Larks", who
recorded a No 1 R&B hit entitled, " The Jerk"
released in late 1964......... The dance would
inspire New York producer..........Let us turn
to the pages of spring 1965.........Jerry Wexler
of Atlantic records was frantic looking for new
material for a new artist, just signed on the
label, named Wilson Pickett..........Wilson was
formerly on Lloyd Price's Double LL label and had
cut a few sides for the label. Signing with
Atlantic records in 1964, he would release a few
singles that would all flop...........Something
had to give.............Jerry Wexler had the
brainstorm idea to take his new artist to Memphis
where Stax records was located......Jerry of
course had dealings with the label (runned by
Jim Stewart and Astelle Axton), when Atlantic
started distributing Stax's products such as
Carla Thomas' 1960 hit, " Gee Whiz", to began
with...........Let's get to the nitty gritty of
this story. When Jerry and Wilson arrived in
Memphis, Jim Stewart himself, picked them up
from the airport and went straight to the
Lorraine Motel (the hotel where Dr. King was
assassinated in April, 1968). Jim and Jerry left
to go a meeting, where Wilson Pickett along with
Booker T and guitarist Steve Cropper stayed.....
When returning back to the hotel, Wilson and
Steve had writtem two songs that would become
future classics..........." In The Midnight Hour"
and " Don't Fight It", in a matter of two hours !!!! The title, " In The Midnight Hour",
was inspired by Wilson always quotating that
phase, during his personal appearances........
Steve Cropper thought it would be a great idea
for a song............. Wilson said it was from
his gospel roots..........." I'm gonna meet sweet
Jesus in the midnight hour, you don't when He's
gonna come, He may come at any given time"......
"In The Midnight Hour", was cut in May of 1965..
The session players on this smoking track was no
other than 3 members of Booker T & The MG's,
Donald " Duck" Dunn on the bass, Steve Cropper
on guitar, Al Jackson Jr on the drums.......Also
on hand were the Memphis Horns.......Wayne
Jackson on trumpet. Floyd Newman on baritone sax,
Packy Axton ( Estelle Axton's son) and Andrew
Love on both tenor sax.......Jerry Wexler of
course was around to produce the sessions, but
some how, the recording couldn't come through....
So Jerry, suggested a rhythm pattern after a new
dance the kids around the country, and in New York,
were doing a new dance called the Jerk ........
He started to demostrate the dance to the players
by dancing around the room............As they
began to chuckled, they suddenly got a feel for
a new arrangement for the song.......The musicians
developed a laid back rhythm which is called in
music terms, 2/4. It means that the bottom bass
drum is playing a rhythm pattern of, 1, 2, 3, 4,
while Al Jackson (the drummer) is playing 1...2
on the snane..........He's delaying the beat....
Because of this arrangement, a new genesis of
playing was born for the Stax label..........
If you listen closely to the early Stax recordings
the rhythm patterns are totally different from
the ones recorded after, " The Midnight Hour"
sessions................." In The Midnight Hour",
hit No 1 for one week in August of 1965 on the
R&B singles chart and No 21 Pop in Sept........
The song would make Wilson Pickett, an international star overnight !!!!!!!!..........
Of course after this recording, Wilson would
go on to have other masterpiece hits during his
association through Stax but an ugly falling out
between Jim Stewart and Jerry Wexler in 1966,
would change all of that............So Jerry
along with Wilson, would find a new home with
across the southern way at the Fame studios
located at Muscle Shoals, Alabama.......As you
know, anything that comes from Wilson's golden
throat just kept shilling out classic hits no
matter where he went..........In The Midnight Hour
is just not some classic hit that people of
nearly 4 generations, can dance to, but it was a
song that changed the new great Stax sound.......
forever !!!!!!!..............Midnight hour,
generated also a sound in the new up coming soul
era, that you can get your groove on.......not
only in the midnight hour......but in the morning the the evening...........or even snack time............
whenever !!!!!!!! Check out the Wicked Pickett
anytime !!!!!!!!...........He's truly The
Midnight Mover !!!!!!!!!

Enjoy !!!!!!
Mike Boone
(Chancellor of Soul)

Top of pageBottom of page   By john dixon ( on Tuesday, February 04, 2003 - 06:49 pm:

great story again Mike; according to Peter Guralnick's "Sweet Soul Music", the fallout at Stax was not just between Stewart and Wexler. Pickett, after a relatively smooth beginning with the MGs on "Midnight Hour", had become so increasingly antagonistic with the musicians that Duck Dunn actually broke out in hives on the eve of a Pickett visit to Memphis. This untenable situation with Wilson and the MGs combined with the soured relations, as you mentioned, between Jim Stewart and Jerry Wexler, is what finally prompted Stewart to tell Wexler to just take Wilson on down to Muscle Shoals instead. Luckily for all of us Muscle Shoals enabled Mr. Pickett to continue his historic hot streak.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Davie Gordon ( on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 11:24 am:

Something that's always intrigued me is that there
are very few Motown versions of Stax songs but
both "Midnight Hour" and "634-5789" were both
done by the same group - of all people, the Elgins

I doubt we'll ever know the story behind that.

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 11:30 am:

Well spotted Davie.

Let's also pay homage to Wilson's glorious 45 on Detroit's Correc-tone label.

Circa '63. A great double-sider.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Chancellor of Soul ( on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 12:33 pm:

Thanks John !!!

Take care,
Mike Boone
(Chancellor of Soul)

Top of pageBottom of page   By TonyRussi ( on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 01:04 pm:

Martha Reeves use to do "I Found A Love" onstage during the mid-sixties...very soulful also.Even though Pickett spent alot of time in Detroit to me he is the epitome of the southern soul sound.I love that mans' voice!

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat ( on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 09:27 pm:

There's also a good story in Gerri Hershey's book about his recording.
If you listen to Wilson's Correc-tone 45 "Let Me Be Your Boy" you'll hear him use the phrase "Midnight Hour"... and as David says, it's a great double sider - one of my all-time faves.

Top of pageBottom of page   By john dixon ( on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 06:36 am:

acoolcat, the Gerri Hershey book you're referring to, "Nowhere To Run", is absolutely one of the best books ever written about soul music. I bought it in hardback back in the'80s when it came out. I wish Gerri would revise/update it.

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