Let's just get this out of the way right from the outset: Sam & Dave are the best soul artists I've ever heard. They're backed by the most groovin' n' rockin' studio band in history, Booker T. & The MGs, for the greatest ever soul label, Stax Records, home of other soul giants such as Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes.
The duo creates an exciting synergy that exudes an energy I've yet to hear in any other soul music. Their music is pure fun to listen to. Every song is like a celebration. It's everything soul should be. But more than that, it's missing the social commentary and dark themes that makes much of the other soul music that was being released at the time almost a drag for me to listen to.
The band is as loose as ever on these tracks. There's an ease and a flow that only comes from bands who are clicked right in with each other. The shuffle feel they get on "I Thank You" makes me wanna scoot my feet across the floor and the groove on "May I Baby" just makes me smile a mile wide. The horn playing in general, and especially on "You Don't Know What You Mean to Me," is exquisitely relaxed in certain parts and punchy in others. As someone who has played lead trumpet in several jazz bands in my life, I appreciate all that much more how much attitude and soul these guys are able to pour out of their instruments.
But as great as the MGs are, Sam & Dave make this music what it is. Their voices are strong and they use all sorts of different stylings, dynamics, and phrasings to emphasize the groove of the songs. And they play off of each other perfectly, never stepping on each others' shoes. A perfect tag-team effort.
Favorites besides the songs I've already mentioned include "Hold On! I'm Comin'," "You Don't Know Like I Know," "Soothe Me," and "A Place Nobody Can Find."
If you haven't checked these guys out, or only know them for their most popular song "Soul Man," as made popular from the movie Blues Brothers, please do yourself a favor and give your life some soul.