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Mickey and the Soul Generation 

Iron Leg: The Complete Mickey and the Soul Generation

Wednesday, Jan 29 2003
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During the band's lifetime, Mickey and the Soul Generation knew little but failure -- none of the group's five singles, recorded between 1969 and 1977, enjoyed any measure of commercial success. However, in recent years the group has been rediscovered by funk enthusiasts, with those same tunes prompting epic record-buying road trips and frenzied eBay bidding.

The San Antonio sextet's appeal lies in its sound -- a concentration of the early '70s style of the J.B.'s and the Meters, eliminating the ballads, extended solos, and anything else that might distract from the groove. The resulting brew of organ, guitar, bass, drums, saxophones, and the occasional chant is as lean as a greyhound and as mean as a Texas trooper.

Lovingly compiled and annotated by the Bay Area's DJ Shadow, Iron Leg: The Complete Mickey and the Soul Generation features two full CDs of material. The first disc collects all 19 of the act's studio recordings, including an album's worth of material that many, including the band, thought was lost. The strong hooks and taut arrangements impress, with George Salas deploying his guitar with subtlety and imagination, from the foghorn blast of the title track to the atmospheric drone of the lone cover, the Temptations' "Message From a Black Man."

The second disc consists of six live demos. While these cuts are generally lower quality, both sonically and in terms of material, it's a revelation to hear a great funk band working through ideas -- to see how "U.F.O." grew from "Life's a Mystery" and how the group polished "Hey, Brother Man." Although there've been plenty of reissues highlighting the creative process of jazz and rock artists -- see Miles Davis' two-CD expansion of In a Silent Way or the Stooges' six-CD version of Fun House -- no one has lavished this kind of attention on a funk band. Iron Leg proves that Mickey and the Soul Generation is worthy of being the first.

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Matthew Africa

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