What grows up in our variegated garden is not always a good thing (Yorkshire-Islamists, for example, are very much a bad thing); but it quite often is, particularly in the realms of food and music. And for me, at least, these little cultural plants are always interesting.
I've already posted on a few examples of rooted cosmopolitanism (as I shall call it): Jones Dairy Cafe and The Specials, for instance. But as I find it so interesting I think I'll do a series of posts on the fruits of this phenomenon.
Let's begin with what started me on this train of thought, as I was jigging around the kitchen to the closing music of 5LiveXtra's [sic] Test Match coverage yesterday evening. It struck me that there are few radio experiences more enjoyable than listening to Blower's fruity tones summing up the day's cricket just before Booker T and the MGs' Soul Limbo - BBC cricket's theme tune - comes on to play the programme out.
Booker T and the MGs were the house band of Stax and Volt, the record labels that produced greats such as Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Sam and Dave and others. That they were the tightest, most together soul band ever is beyond argument. The rhythm section always seemed to me almost spookily good: precise, rock-steady and, in counterpoint, accentuating the soul in the vocals.
Anyway, when they weren't accompanying Stax legends, they released instrumentals. Green Onions, the Mod classic, is probably their best known. But Soul Limbo can't be far behind, solely because a BBC producer back in the 1970s chose it as the theme for the Today at the Test cricket highlights programme. A small piece of unsung genius on his (or her!) part and a little lasting gift from the wave of black soul music that hit our shores in the 60s.
Now, its percussive precision, swirling organ and Caribbean rhythms, unfailingly bring to mind leather on willow, and those tin cans rattled by Windies fans. It feels the most natural pairing and I think it always will.
But stand back a second: isn't it difficult to think of a less likely combination than a Memphis soul backing band and the consummate public-school josher, Henry Blofeld? Wodehouse meets Wilson Pickett, but it works.
Here's an illustration of the effect Soul Limbo can have on a cricket loving audience ("fooking cricket!"):