Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Booker T. & The MG's - House Band Extraordinaire

Bring up the name Booker T. & The MG's, and the majority of people will connect it with the instrumental Green Onions (only the second track the members recorded - and actually first intended as the B-side!). What most people don't realize is that the group was the house band for legendary Southern soul label Stax Records. What that means is that if you listen to almost any track recorded by the label in the 60's, whether it's Sam & Dave, Wilson Picket, The Staple Singers, or countless other Stax artists, you're also listening to Booker T. & The MG's.

Notable members of the band included Isaac Hayes (of Theme From Shaft fame - who sometimes played keyboard), Donald "Duck" Dunn, and Steve Cropper (who both can be seen in the 1980 classic The Blues Brothers as members of "The Band"). And while their names have settled into relative obscurity, their influence on Rock & Roll was monumental. Besides being the session musicians that helped their label-mates sound so good, their style of playing (The MG's stood for Memphis Group, and their Memphis sound was what helped defined Southern soul music) was appreciated by many, including The Beatles (John Lennon was a huge Stax fan).

What brings Booker T. to mind is the current revival of soul and funk courtesy of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (The Dap-Kings being the house band of Daptone Records). Besides putting out some quality material of their own, various members of the group worked as session musicians on Amy Winehouse's Back To Black and performed as the backing band on its supporting tour. Thankfully, it seems that they're getting the credit they deserve and not being left in Amy's drug dependency hazed shadow.

Booker T. & The MG's - Green Onions : The Complete Stax/Volt Singles: 1959-1968 (disc 2)

Booker T. & The MG's - Time Is Tight : Time Is Tight 7"

Booker T. & The MG's - Johnny, I Love You : Time Is Tight 7" B-side


The Blues Brothers - Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
: The Blues Brothers Soundtrack

The Clash - Time Is Tight (Booker T. & The MG's cover) : Super Black Market Clash


Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Ain't It Hard : Dap-Dippin with Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Amy Winehouse - Monkey Man (Toots & The Maytals cover) : You Know I'm No Good Single

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