Booker T. & the MG's


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1962-)65

- Steve Cropper -- guitar

- Al Jackson (RIP 1975) -- drums, percussion

- Booker T. Jones -- vocals, keyboards

- Lewie Steinberg -- bass

 

  line up 2 (1965-77)

- Steve Cropper -- guitar

NEW - Donald 'Duck' Dunn (RIP 2012)-- bass (replaced 

  Lewie Steinberg)

- Al Jackson (RIP 1975) -- drums, percussion

- Booker T. Jones -- vocals, keyboards

 

  line up 3 (1977)

- Steve Cropper -- guitar

- Donald 'Duck' Dunn (RIP) -- bass

NEW - Willie Hall -- drums, percussion (replaced Al Jackson)

- Booker T. Jones -- vocals, keyboards

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Cropper (solo efforts)

- Cropper, Steve (Albert King and Pops Staples

- Booker T. Jones (solo efforts)

- Booker T. and Priscilla

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  And Now!

Company: Stax

Catalog: S 711

Year: 1966

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG

Comments: mono pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1316

Price: $30.00

 

Booker T. & the MG's third studio album, "And Now!" was notable for a change in personnel - bassist Lewie Steinberg replaced by Donald "Duck" Dunn.  While the previous collection,1965's "Soul Dressing" had highlighted original material, this time out the band was content to go with a collection heavy on cover material.   With the exception of two band-penned tracks ('My Sweet Potato' and 'Soul Jam'),  the other ten tracks were all covers - okay Cropper co-wrote 'In the Midnight Hour'.   While that may not have sounded promising, Booker T. Jones and company were smart enough to select an eclectic collection of outside material that lent itself to being Stax-ified.   Among the biggest surprises was their cool remake of George and Ira Gershwin's classic 'Summertime'; a taunt remake of The 5 Royales' 'Think', and  what amounted to a remake of 'Green Onions' via their cover of Rudy Toombs' 'One Mint Julep'.   Was it their most original, or inspiring collection ?  Nah, but it was still fresh and enjoyable.   

 

"And Now" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) My Sweet Potato (instrumental)    (Steve Cropper - Al Jackson - Booker T. Jones) - 2:40

Showcasing Jones' wonderful piano, 'My Sweet Potato' found the band shifting directions towards something out of the Ramsey Lewis Quartet catalog - kind of a soul-jazz vibe.  Not to criticize the tune in any fashion since this one was first-rate.   Stax also tapped the song as a single:

 

  

- 1966's 'My Sweet Potato' b/w 'Booker Loo' (Stax catalog number 45-196)    rating: **** stars

2.) Jericho (instrumental)  (traditional - arranged by Steve Cropper - Duck Dunn - Al Jackson - Booker T. Jones) -  2:30

Surprisingly enjoyable cover with Jones' Hammond B3 taking the spotlight.

3.) No Matter What Shape (instrumental)    (Granville - Burland) - 2:50

So the T-Bones version is the one most folks know, though I have to admit that I'm quite fond of this Stax-ified cover of the tune.   Lots of nice Jones Hammond B3 moves and Steve Cropper adds his usual tasteful fills throughout.    rating: **** stars

4.) One Mint Julep (instrumental)   (Rudy Toombs) - 2:45

I guess you can't be sued for plagiarizing yourself, which is probably a good thing since 'One Mint Julep' sounds very much like the earlier 'Green Onions' with a bit of The Stones 'Satisfaction' thrown in for good measure.   'Course that's such a great tune that most folks will find this work hearing.  Moreover, Cropper turns in a wonderful solo on the tune.   rating: **** stars

5.) In the Midnight Hour (instrumental)   (Steve Crooper - Wilson Pickett) - 2:50

Okay, Cropper may have co-written the song with Wilson Pickett, but Pickett owns the tune and as good as their instrumental cover was, there was no way you were going to forget Pickett's version.   rating: *** stars

6.) Summertime (instrumental)   (George Gershwin - Ira Gershwin - Dubose Heyward) - 4:35

I can remember being dumbfounded by their smooth and silky cover of this tune.  I can remember thinking this was one of the covers they must have done to pad out the running time.  Well that may have been true, but this has to be one of the best covers ever done - imagine a mix of Pink Floyd psych and blues moves.   Unlike any other Gershwin cover you've heard.   YouTube has an interesting 1991 live performance of the tune (Anton Fig on drums):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od5WdxsRCt0    rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)

1.) Working In the Coal Mine  (instrumental)   (Allen Toussaint0 - 2:40

Another cover that wasn't going to make your forget the original - in this case Lee Dorsey.   That said All Jackson stole the show on this one.   rating: *** stars

2.) Don't Mess Up a Good Thing (instrumental)    (Oliver Sain) - 2:20

Nice bubbly cover of the Oliver Sain tune with Jones and Cropper sharing the spotlight this time out.  The band just sounded like they were having fun recording the tune.    rating: **** stars

3.) Think (instrumental)    (Lowman Pauling) - 2:53

Nice cover of the The 5 Royales hit.  Probably the album's "toughest" sounding performance.   rating: **** stars

4.) Tabooo  (instrumental)   (Bob Russell - Margarita Lecuona) - 4:20

Written in the early 1940s, the original tune had kind of a tropical feel to it, though this version loses most of that vibe in favor of a Memphis flavor.   rating: *** stars

5.) Soul Jam (instrumental)       (Steve Cropper - Duck Dunn - Al Jackson - Booker T. Jones) - 3:00

The album' s second group-penned original, based on the title you would have expected a throwaway tune, but this was actually quite impressive with Jones showcasing his effortless style on the Hammond B3.   Probably would have been a good choice for a follow-on single.  rating: **** stars

6.) Sentimental Journey (instrumental)    (Les Brown - Ben Homer - Bud Green) - 3:10

The album's first major disappointment - sluggish and forgettable.  rating: ** stars

 

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  In the Christmas Spirit

Company: Stax

Catalog: S 713

Year: 1966

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: mono pressing; minor edge wear along bottom seam; DJ stamp on inner label

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4525

Price: $20.00

 

1966's "Booker T. & the MG's In the Christmas Spirit" won't change your life in any manner, but it's weird enough to be worth checking into.  An all-instrumental set, the group works their way through a dozen well known Christmas efforts, injecting them with some patented Memphis Group moves - Jones' organ and Cropper's guitar add an interesting spice to tracks such as 'Silver Bells' and 'Merry Christmas Baby'.

 

"In the Christmas Spirit" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Jingle Bells (instrumental)   (traditional arranged by Booker T. & the MG's) - 2:32

2.) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (instrumental)    (Coots - Gillespie) - 2:25

3.) Winter Wonderland (instrumental)    (Bernard - Smith) - 2:05

4.) White Christmas (instrumental)    (Irving Berlin) - 2:59

5.) The Christmas Song (instrumental)    (Torme  Wells) - 3:15

6.) Silver Bells (instrumental)   (Livignston - Evans) - 2:28

 

(side 2)

1.) Merry Christmas Baby (instrumental)   (Baxter - Moore) - 3:10

2.) Blue Christmas (instrumental)    (Hayes - Johnson) - 3:06

3.) Sweet Little Jesus Boy (instrumental)   (MacGimsey) - 2:47

4.) Silent Night   (traditional arranged by Booker T. & the MG's) - 3:17

5.) We Three Kings (instrumental)   (traditional arranged by Booker T. & the MG's)) - 2:30

6.) We Wish You a Merry Christmas (instrumental)    (traditional arranged by Booker T. & the MG's) - 2:30

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Hip Hug-Her

Company: Stax

Catalog: S 717

Year: 1967

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: promo sticker on cover

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 4400

Price: $15.00

It's hard to pick my favorite Booker T. & the MG's album, but this one's definitely in the running.  Their second release with bassist Donald 'Duck 'Dunn in the lineup, 1967's "Hip Hug-Her" doesn't stray far from the group's patented formula.  Like earlier releases it offers up a mix of originals and popular covers, but this time around the group's running on all cylinders, turning in a set that with the possible exception of a stale cover of Bobby Hebb's 'Sunny', doesn't have any real filler. My personal favorites are all group originals, including the monster title track, 'Soul Sanction' and 'Double or Nothing'.  Memphis soul simply didn't get much better than this!   (This must be an early pressing off the album since the cover includes a promo sticker showing the album contains 'Slim Jenkin's Place', but the track listing shows the song as being entitled 'Slim Jenkin's Joint'.  Inspired by the name of a restaurant located near the Stax Studios, in the wake of complaints that the song title was too suggestive, latter pressing listed the song as 'Juke Jenkin's Place'.)

Stax pulled two singles from the album:

- 1967's 'Hip Hug-Her' b/w 'Summertime' (Stax catalog number 211)
- 1967's 'Groovin'' b/w 'Slim Jenkin's Place' (Stax catalog number 224)

"Hip Hug-Her" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hip Hug-Her (instrumental)   (Steve Cropper - Duck Dunn - Al Jackson - Booker T. Jones) - 2:22

2.) Soul Sanction (instrumental)   (Steve Cropper - Duck Dunn - Al Jackson - Booker T. Jones) - 2:30

3.) Get Ready (instrumental)   (Smokey Robinson) - 2:45

4.) More (instrumental)   (Olivero - Ortolani) - 2:55

5.) Double or Nothing (instrumental)   (Steve Cropper - Duck Dunn - Al Jackson - Booker T. Jones) - 2:51

6.) Carnaby St. (instrumental)    (Steve Cropper - Duck Dunn - Al Jackson - Booker T. Jones) - 2:14

 

(side 2)

1.) Slim Jenkin's Joint (instrumental)   (Steve Cropper - Duck Dunn - Al Jackson - Booker T. Jones) - 2:25

2.) Pigmy (instrumental)   (Brown - Larkin - Swarm) - 3:55

3.) Groovin'  (instrumental)  (Eddie Brigatti - Felix Cavaliere) - 2:40

4.) Booker's Notion (instrumental)   (Steve Cropper - Duck Dunn - Al Jackson - Booker T. Jones) - 2:25

5.) Sunny (instrumental)   (Bobby Hebb) - 3:24

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Doin' Our Thing

Company: Stax

Catalog: S 724

Year: 1968

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small cut out hole top left corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4403

Price: $15.00

The problem with a formula is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  Unfortunately, the latter's the case for most of 1968's "Doin' Our Thing".  A now patented mix of originals and popular covers, judging by material such as their cover of Sonny and Cher's 'The Beat Goes On' and Bobbie Gentry's 'Ode To Billy Joe' the band seemed to be on automatic pilot for most of this set.  Among the few songs that generate any real enthusiasm are their cover of Willie Cobb's 'You Don't Love Me' and the originals 'I Can Dig It' and 'Blue On Green'.  Elsewhere this one's strictly Memphis elevator music.  (Anyone know why Stax chose to use such an old publicity photo for the back cover?)

 

"Doin' Our Thing" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Can Dig It   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Duck - Al Jackson Jr.) (instrumental) - 2:44

2.) Expressway (To Your Heart) (instrumental)   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 3:00

3.) Doin' Our Thing   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Duck - Al Jackson Jr.) (instrumental) - 3:55

4.) You Don't Love Me (instrumental)   (WIllie Cobb) - 2:52

5.) Never My Love (instrumental)   (Don Addrissi - Dick Addrisi) - 2:45

6.) The Exodus Song (instrumental)   (Ernest Gold) - 2:35

 

(side 2)

1.) The Beat Goes On  (instrumental)  (Sonny Bono) - 2:32

2.) Ode To Billie Joe (instrumental)   (Bobbie Gentry) - 2:56

3.) Blue On Green   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Duck - Al Jackson Jr.) (instrumental) - 2:29

4.) You Keep me Hanging On (instrumental)   (Eddie Holland - Lamont Dozier - Brian Holland) - 4:47

5.) Let's Go Get Stoned (instrumental)   (Valerie Simpson - Nicholas Ashford - Joseph Armstead) - 2:51

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  The Booker T. Set

Company: Stax

Catalog: STS-2009

Year: 1969

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring and edge wear; original metallic foil cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5042

Price: $8.00

 

 

If you were expecting to hear something completely different from the band's patented sound, then you probably had little interest in 1969's "The Booker T. Set".  Like the last couple of sets this one found the quartet taking on a series of popular pop and soul hits and subjecting them to a Memphis sound makeover.  The results were mixed with soul covers such as Cliff Nobles 'The Horse' and Sly Stone's 'Sing a Simple Song' lending themselves to the updates better than some of the pop material.  At the other extreme their cover of The Beatles' 'Michelle'  and Burt Bacharach's 'This Guy's In Love with You' were both pretty lame.  Highlights included their cover of The Supremes 'Love Child' (it took me a couple of spins to recognize the song), '' and ''.  Curiously Stax management tapped one of the lamer covers as a single, though it managed to go top 40 - 'Mrs. Robinson' b/w 'Soul Clap' (Stax catalog number STA-0037)  

 

A nice and enjoyable album in a background music fashion, but hardly a necessity for anyone other than hardcore fanatics. Dock it a star for the absence of much in the way of original material - one song Jones and Bell co-wrote with Eddie Floyd ('I've Never Found a Girl').  Still, propelled by the hit single the parent album sold well, hitting # 53.

 

"The Booker T. Set" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Horse (instrumental)   (Jesse James) - 2:45 

2.) Love Child (instrumental)   (Deke Richards - Pam Sawyer - Dean R. Taylor - Frank WIlson) - 3:02

3.) Sing a Simple Song (instrumental)   (H.S. Pepper - J. Watt - B. Feldman) - 3:33

4.) Lady Madonna (instrumental)   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:32

5.) Mrs. Robinson (instrumental)   (Paul Simon) - 3:41

 

(side 2)

1.) This Guy's In Love with You (instrumental)   (Burt Bacharach) - 3:09

2.) Light My Fire (instrumental)   (Jim Morrison - Ray Manzarek - Densmore) - 4:18

3.) Michelle (instrumental)   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 2:49

4.) You're All I Need To Get By (instrumental)   (Nickolas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:54

5.) I've Never Found a Girl (instrumental)   (Booker T. Jones - Eddie Floyd - Al Bell) - 2:49

6.) It's You Thing (instrumental)   (Ron Isley - O'Kelly Isley - Rudolph Isley) - 3:02

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: * (1 star)

Title:  McLemore Avenue

Company: Stax

Catalog: STS-2027

Year: 1970

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD

 

Pulling a page out of the George Benson songbook, 1970's "McLemore Avenue" (named after the road outside of Stax Studios) was a shoddy track-for-track instrumental remake of the Beatles' "Abbey Road."   Ill conceived and hastily recorded, there was no reason to subject anyone to this, unless they had an inexplicable desire to hear tepid remakes of classic songs such as George Harrison's 'Something'.  Nice to know these guys were Beatles fans, but this was simply a quick way to screw the poor consumer out of a couple of bucks.  The set's sole highlight stemmed from the nifty parody of The Beatles "Abbey Road" cover. Justifiably a commercially failure, the album peaked at # 107. 

"McLemore Avenue" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, The End, Here Comes the Sun, Come Together   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney - George Harrison) - 15:46

 

(side 2)

1.) Something   (George Harrison) - 4:07 

2.) Sun King, Mean Mr. Mustard, Polythene Pam, She Came Through the Bathroom Window, I Want You, She's So Heavy   (J0hn Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 10:39


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Booker T. & the M.G.'s  Greatest Hits

Company: Stax

Catalog: STS-2033 

Year: 1970

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: name stamped in inner label

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4788

Price: $6.00

 

Given this was the group's second "best of" compilation, "Booker T. & the M.G.'s Greatest Hits" was surprisingly good. With Stax apparently sensing the group's commercial viability was rapidly coming to an end, the collection covered much of the same ground as the earlier set, but added a couple of later era singles, including the Jones solo single "Johnny, I Love You". As such, not every one of these was a massive hit and there were some curious omissions, but you'll recognize the vast majority of the eleven tunes.

"Booker T. & the M.G.'s Greatest Hits" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hang Em High (instrumental) (Dominic Frontiere) - 3:53
2.) Eleanor Rigby (instrumental) (John Lennon - Paul McCarntey) - 3:34
3.) Soul Limbo (instrumental) (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Dunn - Al Jackson) - 2:23
4.) Over Easy (instrumental) (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Dunn - Al Jackson) - 4:05
5.) Mrs. Robinson (instrumental) (Paul Simon) - 3:38

(side 2)

1.) Something (instrumental) (George Harrison) - 3:38
2.) Time Is Tight (instrumental) (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Dunn - Al Jackson) - 3:14
3.) Johnny, I Love You (Booker T. Jones) - 3:00
4.) Heads Or Tails (instrumental) (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Dunn - Al Jackson) - 2:30
5.) Meditation (instrumental) (Booker T. Jones) - 3:59
6.) Hip Hug Her (instrumental) (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Dunn - Al Jackson) - 2:22

 

 

 



Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Universal Language

Company: Asylum

Catalog: 7E-1093 

Year: 1977

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: minor ring and edge wear; original inner sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 4787

Price: $9.00

Sessions for a reunion Booker T. and the M.G.s album actually started in 1975, but were derailed when drummer Al Jackson was shot and killed in his Memphis home by a burglar.  Two years later Steve Cropper, Donald Dunn, and Booker T. did reunite with Willie Hall stepping in as replacement drummer.  Self-produced, 1977's "Universal Language" fell a little short of classic M.G.'s status, but had more than it's share of winning moments.  Propelled by Booker T''s instantly recognizable keyboards, exemplified by tracks such as 'In Memphis' and 'Sticky Stuff' the band's sound remained largely intact, though a couple of the efforts to update their sound (occasional synthesizers and Cropper's ill advised voice box guitar effects on 'Grab Bag' were more startling than effective.  Perhaps not their quintessential release, but all told a nice comeback.  Asylum also released a pair of singles off the album:

 

- 'Sticky Stuff' b/w 'Tie Stick' (Asylum catalog number E-45392)

- 'Grab Bag' b/w '' (Asylum catalog number E-45424)

 

"Universal Language" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Sticky Stuff (instrumental)   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald duck Dunn - Willie Hall) - 

2.) Grab Bag (instrumental)   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald duck Dunn - Willie Hall) - 

3.) Space Nuts (instrumental)   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald duck Dunn - Willie Hall) - 

4.) Love Wheels (instrumental)   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald duck Dunn - Willie Hall) - 

5.) Moto Cross (instrumental)   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald duck Dunn - Willie Hall) - 

 

(side 2)

1.) Last Tango (instrumental)   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Duck Dunn - Willie Hall) - 

2.) In Memphis (instrumental)   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Duck Dunn - Willie Hall) - 

3.) M.G.'s Salsa (instrumental)   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Duck Dunn - Willie Hall) - 

4.) Tie Stick (instrumental)   (Johnny Stevenson) - 

5.) Reincarnation (instrumental)   (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Donald Duck Dunn - Willie Hall) - 

 

 

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