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World Cafe Looks Back: The Sound Of Memphis

Today's episode of World Cafe celebrates the iconic sound of Memphis, Tenn., and Stax Records by looking back at past conversations with some of its key players.

Responsible for injecting his irrefutable swagger into the Shaft theme song, Isaac Hayes began his long career as a singer, songwriter and actor with the late-'60s albums Presenting Isaac Hayes and Hot Buttered Soul. In this 2003 interview, he discusses his early work as a house musician for Stax Records, the recording process behind his first albums, and how Shaft affected his image.

As a 16-year-old Memphis kid, Steve Cropper received his first royalty check, after having only played the guitar for two years. It was a sign of things to come, as Cropper went on to back Booker T & The MGs, Johnnie Taylor and the Blues Brothers. A true member of the Stax family and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Cropper visited World Cafe in 2005 to talk about recording "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" with Otis Redding.

Booker T. Jones was also a teenager when he released his debut album. As a bandleader and frequent collaborator with Redding, Carla and Rufus Thomas, and Eddie Floyd, Jones had a flame-broiled sound which dominated Stax Records' presence on the charts. In 2009, he brought a new rendition of the hit "Green Onions" to the World Cafe studio, and told stories of working with Quincy Jones.

The Reverend Al Green reinvigorated the sound of soul with his love songs, tender voice and vulnerable songwriting. Born in Arkansas, Green was kicked out of his parents' home for listening to Jackie Wilson, then released the minor hit "Back Up Train" in 1967; he finally struck gold in his collaborations with producer Willie Mitchell. In this 2005 interview, Green discusses the balance of being both a musician and a reverend, and describes how he found his voice as a singer.

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