ARTIST: Booker T. & The MG’s
TITLE: The Best of Booker T. & The MG’s
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation(s)
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Top 40: Green Onions (#3 US, #1 US R&B, #7 UK (on 1979 re-release), Boot-Leg (#58 US, #10 US R&B), My Sweet Potato (#85 US, #18 US R&B), Hip Hug-Her (#37 US, #6 US R&B), Groovin’ (#21 US, #10 US R&B), Soul Limbo (#17 US, #30 UK), Hang ‘Em High (#9 US, #35 US R&B), Time Is Tight (#6 US, #7 US R&B, #4 UK), Mrs. Robinson (#37 US, #35 US R&B, #35 UK), Melting Pot (#45 US, #21 US R&B)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: A few covers, and you may know some songs and not know it.
LINEUP: Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Jr., Lewie Steinberg (until 1965), Donald “Duck” Dunn (from 1965)
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The instrumental geniuses behind the Stax sound recorded a slew of solo instrumental albums and singles.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While the individual albums are streaming, these two collections (both named the same thing, and they have a little overlap) are probably your go-to as they collect all of the highlights (though there’s one album I’m reviewing on its own).
All of the musicians here are excellent craftsmen. Jackson and Dunn (or Steinberg) find a groove and keep grooving, while Cropper and Jones add guitar and organ mastery too it. Each player complements and supplements the other.
While it’s interesting for sure to hear some contemporary (at the time) covers done in the MG style, in this collection the fun was the originals, or how they did a standard like “Summertime”. Casual fans will pick and choose, of course, but almost everything here is worth your while.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: For years, Stax claimed the MG’s stood for Memphis Group as they didn’t want any trouble from the car manufacturer, but finally it was admitted the group was named after famed producer Chip Moman’s sports car.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. I did create a mega stream by combining both packages together.
GRADE: A-: The original 1968 compilation has the early hits, which aren’t available on the later compilation. If you want “Green Onions”, get the first one. If you want their later stuff (which isn’t as derivative from “Green Onions”) then grab the latter. Or do what I did and mash ‘em together. Either way, groove on!