Booker T. & The MG's - Green Onions LP

(Stax, 1962)

 

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"The original line-up heard on Green Onions comprised of Booker T. Jones (organ, piano), Steve Cropper (guitar), Lewie Steinberg (bass) and Al Jackson, Jr. (drums). The four members formed the group in 1962 as the house band of seminal soul and R&B label Stax Records, and they went on to play on hundreds of recordings by some of the decade's leading hit-makers, including Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett and the inimitable Otis Redding. To this day they remain one of the most respected and imitated acts of that era.

Whilst the majority of the tracks on their first album weren't original compositions but rather covers of popular songs, the artistry on display is one of the finest half hours of instrumental music ever recorded, from any genre. You'd be forgiven for thinking the world need never hear another version of I Got A Woman aside from the remarkable Ray Charles original, but the organ and guitar work from Jones and Cropper on their instrumental interpretation gives the song a whole new dimension, and more than makes up for the lack of confidence in any of the band members to assume vocal duties on this, or indeed any other tracks on the album.

As a unit they were so tight, so deeply in the pocket of the overall groove, there's not a single note or nuance out of place from start to finish.

This album afforded the band the opportunity to fully showcase their skills and tellingly its stand out moments are indeed the three original compositions, most notably the title track, which just might be the greatest instrumental song of all-time. A Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, Green Onions began life as an improvisational jam during some down time whilst the band were recording backing tracks for rockabilly artist Billy Lee Riley. Luckily the session was recorded and the resulting track, initially meant as the B-side to Behave Yourself (also featured on this album) was quickly reissued as the A-side after it proved to be the bigger hit." - Matt Stocks for TeamRock