"The Soul Movers are the real deal my friends. They love soul music – and they also understand and feel it. The very essence of soul music beats inside the members of The Soul Movers and as such they play the music with feeling, passion and a big, pulsating heart. In every way they celebrate its history and look forward to its ever evolving future – a future that they are part of."
Author, journalist, music commentator, independent artist publicist and radio broadcaster.
“It sounds great!”
Rhythms Magazine owner and founder and Melbourne’s RRR radio’s top rating Off The Record show host.
“You want a word to describe the Soul Movers? How about electric. Earning their stripes as one of Australia’s hardest working bands, the Soul Movers have taken their brand of soul to the USA and back again where the band laid down some of the finest grooves you’re likely to hear in 2019. Buckle up … the Soul Movers are coming.”
Music writer, author and ABC Radio music journalist and radio broadcaster.
“The Soul Movers are far more than just their cool moves. We are talking consummate style with an infectious, spiritual energy led by the commanding presence of Lizzie Mack and the rockin’ real-deal guitar of Murray Cook. Their album’s title – Bona Fide – says it all.”
Around The Sound editor and music journalist.
The Soul Movers are back with a brand-new album, Bona Fide. Their third album, recorded across seven legendary studios in the USA, the tracks crackle with the intensity of a band at the peak of their powers. The core foursome took their brand of soul to the USA and have brought back an album that will stop you in your tracks.
Fronted by Lizzie Mack and her brother in soul, Murray Cook, the Soul Movers include Andy Newman (The Visitors) and Marko Simec (Waiting For Guiness) with Stuart Wilson (Loose Pills) and Glenn Abbott (Super Massive) sharing stick shifts.
The Soul Movers spent much of 2018 traversing Australia, chalking up more gigs than would seem humanly possible. When Murray wasn’t stealing the show with the DZ Deathrays at Splendour In The Grass, Lizzie was writing songs and studio-spotting, putting together a recording schedule any music nut would die to tag along on.
Bumping into Dan Auerbach at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios after their 2017 SXSW shows, the seed for the trip was planted. Recovering from the offer to come and record, Lizzie and Murray sketched out a mud map of America’s most iconic southern studios at a local bar. Having tracked down the
‘Swampers’ and tied down their studio bookings they set sail in 2018 for hallowed musical ground.
The band got to work in studios such as: Rick Hall’s Fame Studio, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and in Memphis, Al Green’s Royal Studios and Sam Phillip’s groundbreaking Sun Studio. It was all coming together.
“We visited Muscle Shoals as mad fans the year before” begins guitarist/ songwriter Murray Cook. “Lizzie struck up a conversation with drummer Gene Chrisman (Dusty in Memphis, Elvis’ Suspicious Minds). He was there recording with Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys). He invited us to take a look inside to meet legendary bass player David Hood. We chatted for a while then Dan asked if we were thinking of recording there. I must say it hadn’t crossed our minds before, but we pretty much decided then and there that it was a pretty cool idea”.
“The other part of the equation was to collaborate with the musicians working there, including David and any surviving Swampers (Muscle Shoals’ famed session players). We wanted to investigate if our brand of soul-pop and rock would be seen as authentic by the musicians, some of the instigators of this music, that we were so heavily influenced by.”
Not many bands are crazy or brave enough to try to lay down an album across seven studios (well nine, including drop-ins) and there were too many highlights to name.
At Sun Records an “X” marks the spot where Elvis sang and also where front- woman Lizzie Mack and band stood and delivered. Lizzie wrote ‘Elvis Made Me’ especially for the session at Sun Studios which they cut live with no overdubs in the room where Presley himself recorded ‘That’s Alright Mama’, ‘Mystery Train’ and many more. Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee, Roy Orbison all hung from the walls around them as both the sun and the track went down.
Murray continues, “I was happy with Testify! as a first album from the new band. But this album (Bona Fide) is a quantum leap. As we planned a musical pilgrimage to these iconic US studios, we consciously wrote more roots- oriented songs, trying to reflect a wide range of American music styles but recreated from our Aussie perspective.”
Taking the name of the album from a musicians secret watering hole under Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, Bona Fide saw the group working with some American legends who cut their musical teeth recording with everyone from rock n’ roll’s original architects such as Little Richard and the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin.
Recording live with these amazing players, the Soul Movers could feel the Muscle Shoals DNA working its way into their material.
“The biggest impact on our music came from the collaborations we had with the American musicians and singers we worked with,” continues Murray. “The studios and musicians reinforced our ideas and spurred us on, greatly influencing our confidence and performances. The feedback they gave on our creativity, the quality of our songs and our individual performance as musicians really reinforced us. Bona Fide is a much stronger and more authentic album as a result.”
Ask the band to name some memorable moments and you’re hit with a litany of anecdotes.
Simply working at Rick Hall’s Fame Studios “any old-school musician’s studio of choice” was a highlight. They not only cut tracks with Swampers (David Hood and Spooner Oldham), they heard magic be infused into most of the tracks with the Shoal Sisters stand-out harmonies and Milton Sledge’s classic beats on ‘Loaded Dice’, ‘Burned Out’, ‘Say That You’re Leaving’ and retro heartbreaker ‘Say You Do’ at Nutthouse and Cypress Moon Studios.
Jimmy Nutt, owner of The Nutthouse and a protégé of Rick Hall’s, engineered the album with Lizzie, adding percussion. Kelvin Holly, Little Richard’s guitarists of twenty years, joined them in the studio to add his delicious licks on the tunes best reflecting his golden era.
At Royal Studios the owner, Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, was so impressed with Lizzie’s voice that he rang studio owner Al Green to ask if she could use his personal ‘number nine’ microphone… thankfully, Al said ‘She would be my guest’.
Soul man Bar-Kays drummer Carlos Sargent lay down grooves on ‘Deep in The South’, ‘Falling Hard’ and ‘What Good Is Your Love’ using the kit that the late Al Jackson Junior owned and which has been mic’d up the same way for forty years.
On their way back from Tennessee, extra vocals were cut at Cypress Moon before the crew headed to the Creative Workshop Studio in Nashville owned by Jimmy Buffett and known at “The Friendly Forrest” which had previously played host to artists from Leon Russell to Olivia Newton John.
On their recording odyssey, the band collected an album’s worth of tracks and then some. Bona Fide will be released in various physical formats – the leaner hybrid being the vinyl (with full digital download) edition.
So, was there one particular memory that stood out from the American experience?
“That would have to be working with our backing vocalists, the Shoals Sisters (Cindy Walker and Marie Lewey) and Royal Studios incredible vocalists: Sharisse Norman and Candise Rayborn-Marshall. They blew the collective band’s minds BIG time – taking our songs to a whole new dimension – especially in ‘Loaded Dice’ and ‘Lift Me Up”.
Taking a moment, Lizzie sums up the experience for herself, Murray and the whole band.
“This album feels like the first one to truly capture our ‘real sound’,” she admits. “It has an original flavour to it that had to come from the very special alchemy of an Aussie/ American combination of players and our combined approaches to this type of modern soul music. It’s a standout. It’s also obviously deeply satisfying for me to have come so much closer to what I hear in the very beginning with these songs – on the inside”.
The Soul Movers have made a remarkable album. The studio time, the air miles and the unerring belief in their commitment to the beauty of soul have led to a stunning collection of songs. Bona Fide has arrived.
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