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Soul Limbo - Booker T and the M.G.'s

Well, we are in limbo on the American election, the result being too close to call with Trump delay tactics ongoing in case Biden wins. So, instead of the planned posts for either result, and as we are, as stated, in limbo, we need an optimistic spirit lifter from Booker T and the M.G.s and there's few better than their hit "Soul Limbo". It's not recorded how the BBC made the unlikely choice of a soul instrumental by the Stax house band from Memphis, Tennessee, to be the theme tune for their radio coverage of Test Match Cricket, the quintessentially English bat and ball game, but the record is now the signature tune for the sport all around the world . On second thoughts, perhaps it's not so unlikely after all. When the BBc first adopted the track, it was the early seventies and the West Indies were embarking on a period of domination of the game that lasted for over twenty years. This was the first occasion in any major team sport when the undisputed world best were a completely non-white team, comprising only players of African and Asian origins.

The actual "limbo" dance on which the tune rhythm is based originated in the West Indies, in Trinidad, and guitarist Steve Cropper is on record as saying that the band were consciously borrowing from Jamaican music styles when they recorded it. The group itself was multi racial, two black (keyboards Booker T Jones and drummer Al Jackson) and two white (Steve Cropper (guitar) and Donald "Duck" Dunn (bass) ) which was unusual in those days - they had their first hit in 1962 - especially in the US South and as the studio band for a soul record label. Today, with many of the old problems of the sixties returning to the headlines, the warm, feelgood exuberance of "Soul Limbo" is the perfect antidote to these worrying times, especially guest performer Terry Manning's wonderfully sunny marimba solo, framed by Jackson's irresistible cow bell and Booker T's trilling Hammond organ.

Cricket, like the American election, is a very competitive game, with its own set of often quite complex rules, amongst which the behaviour of players is of the utmost importance. A teammate of mine used to sing "Jingle Bells" between balls within hearing of the batsman. When, eventually, the batsman or a nearby fielder would exasperatedly ask him "what on earth are you playing at?", he would reply "I'm sledging." Sledging is the term used for saying things that are meant to disturb the batsman's concentration and lead to his dismissal. Although this has become more common in recent years, like many other actions on the cricket pitch, it can been deemed "unfair play" under law 41 in the Rules of Cricket, specifically, if it is considered not to be within the "Spirit of Cricket". When this occurs, most players, whatever the level of cricket being played, know that a line has been crossed.

What is disturbing about the current election is that the lines have been crossed over and over again. Other maxims in the game of cricket are that the rules are sacred, the umpire's decision is final and that when the game is over, the losers shake hands with the winners and say "Well played". I know that this is the American presidential election and not the English Summer game, but the behaviour of one side in the contest is definitely "not cricket".

As a result of the notorious "bodyline" test series of 1922/3 between England and Australia, the rules of cricket were changed to rule out the tactic that England used to achieve their victory. The series was won 4 - 1 by England. No-one for a moment suggested that the result should be reversed in the light of the subsequent rule changes. The Australians were grown-ups, and accepted that their opponents had achieved victory within the current rules of cricket. Trump take note.


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