Watch the Memphis Mambo online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from 40 Day Rhythm SWAT Camp
In 1966, Booker T and The MG's teamed up with Albert King to produce some of his greatest and most influential records, including "Born Under A Bad Sign," "Oh Pretty Woman" and King's famous version of "Crosscut Saw." A highlight of the last track is the MG's application of Latin rhythms to the blues classic. It's fairly common technique in blues and roots music, and provides an alternative to the straight rock n roll and funk grooves that were the staple of the MG's style.
There's no rhythm guitar part on the recording, so play along using the rhythm groove in Figure 1. It incorporated both a bass-line and a chord figure, so get ready for some fancy fret-work. Use your left thumb to fret the root of the G6, holding it down as you finger the rest of the chord. Then shift your ring finger up to the 7th fret on the 6th string, and complete the bass-line in the 5th position. For the C9 and D9 chords, you don't need to use your thumb - just finger the chords normally, with the 3rd finger barring the top three strings. Finally, you shift up to finish the bass part.
Pay attention to instruments other than guitar for interesting rhythm ideas. The piano part on "Crosscut Saw," for example, is very un-guitarish, but it can be easily adapted as in Figure 2. A feeling of tension and release is created by approaching each chord from a whole step below. ("Approach" chords are indicated in parentheses.)
Rhythmically, Figure 2 should be played very staccato. A useful trick that helps achieve this effect is to not quite press the strings down all the way when fingering chords. Also, keep your picking hand moving in a constant, relaxed, up-and-down pattern, scratching the strings evenly between the chords to maintain the smoothness of the groove. As with most blues rhythm playing, this technique is more like strumming than picking.