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Jimmy Smith: Mickey Mouse

Jimmy Smith was a master of pulling soul out of the cheesiest organ lines. On "T-Bone Steak," the flip side of this single, he and his band create one of these classic grooves, made up of funky guitar licks, a propulsive beat and bass line, and Smith's oozing organ. But they sound even better on Side A: "Mickey Mouse."

smith_mouse.jpgIt opens with Smith jamming some smoky scales, then rocking the room with his gravelly vocals: "Now it's time to say goodbye to all our company: M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E." His band pushes the beat and melody on as Smith works the keys into a whirling, sweaty dance party. "Come along and sing a song and join the jamboree," he sings. "Mickey Mouse! Mickey Mouse!"

Now, I have to admit that it's easy for me to get into this: I've always loved Mickey Mouse because I share his name. Overall, Disney cartoons may be too smooth and overproduced and lacking in bad guys, but I've repeatedly been taken in by the euphoria of these calls to come along and sing our song - even in the tune's original, scrubbed-clean version. The Mouseketeer hats were pretty sweet, too.

Yet Jimmy Smith's number hits its peak when the organ goes still, the guitar plays an elegant flamenco-like rhythm, the snare drum snaps along, and he mutters, "And don't forget Donald Duck." How great! Not that I needed one, but it's a reminder that even if my name were Spartacus, these are three of the best minutes I'll have today.

Or, as Smith sings: "Forever let us hold our banner high."


Posted on September 23, 2006

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