The Hot Dogs were a Memphis group who recorded for Stax offshoot Ardent Records in the early- to mid-'70s. Ardent was also Big Star's label and studio during this time period, and the Hot Dogs were a similar band in many respects, drawing on the same mix of Beatlesque guitars and harmonies, although without the skewed, edgy deconstructive feel that made Big Star so distinctive and posthumously revered. A loose conglomeration of Stax session players, including singer and bassist Bill Rennie, singer, guitarist and pianist Greg Reding, and later, guitarist Jack Holder and drummer Fred Prouty, along with producer and lead guitarist Terry Manning, the Hot Dogs released two albums, the pretty, harmony driven Say What You Mean in 1973, and the rockier, less distinctive Hot Dog in 1977. Say What You Mean is a lovely set, highlighted by the title track, which features some spot-on George Harrison-styled lead guitar work, and "Morning Rain," which sounds like a lost Zombies song with some funky Memphis organ tossed into the mix. "Take the Time to Let Me Know" is another gem, with its massed acoustic and electric guitars building to a nice, leisurely crescendo. Mellow, melodic, and full of wonderful vocal harmonies, Say What You Mean will be of interest to Big Star fans (producer Manning also worked with Big Star member Chris Bell at Ardent), and is a stellar of example of that curious Memphis power pop micro-genre that centered around the Ardent studios in the early 1970s.
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