on 12 February 2014
I ordered the Booker T & the MGs box (from Amazon UK), and when it arrived was surprised to find the box itself was the red tinted edition and not the blue tinted one advertised (see images for the different coloured boxes).
Much to my surprise all 5 CDs are remastered editions.
The CD front sleeves are reproduced from the originals. The back sleeves are not reproduced from the originals and have instead an easy to read track listing and the following helpful information:
ATLANTIC & ATCO Remasters series
Digitally remastered from original mono master tapes by Bill Inglot & Don Hersch at DigiPrep.
Digitally remastered by Bill Inglot & Don Hersch at DigiPrep.
AND NOW! / HIP HUG-HER / DOIN' OUR THING
Digitally remastered from original master tapes by Bill Inglot & Don Hersch at DigiPrep. Reissue Producer: Yves Beauvais
*NOTE - Apparently not all boxes (red or blue) contain the remastered CDs.
This collection comprises the first five 'proper' studio albums by the Stax house band, Booker T. and the MG's (there was also a live album shared with the Markeys and a Christmas album), which makes it indispensable to anyone with an interest in the genre. The first, Green Onions, was recorded to capitalise on the surprise hit single, Green Onions, and was Stax's first non-compilation album, recorded in 1962. Three group originals were fleshed out with versions of contemporary hits.
It was three years before the excellent follow-up, Soul Dressing, which, with the exception of Don Covay's Mercy Mercy, was completely original material. As it was less commercially successful future Booker T. albums returned to the format of the first album, with more non-original material. Five of the tracks were made available on singles, including Outrage, on which I believe William Allan depped for Booker T. Jones. Plum Nellie was augmented by the Memphis Horns, so it was technically a Markeys track. During 1965 their bass-player Lewis Steinberg was replaced by Donald 'Duck' Dunn, and he plays on an unspecified handful of newer tracks, although the composer credits still go to Lewis Steinberg. This was also of interest sociologically as the band was now half white and half black at a time when such integration was rare.
And Now! was therefore the first full album to have Donald 'Duck' Dunn on bass. It was also the first to be released in mono and stereo (the first two had been re-released in electronically re-channelled stero, but are thankfully in mono in this set). This CD utilizes stereo mixes, with the exception of Think which is mono. Think is a nod to Steve Cropper's main inspiration, Lowman Pauling, who wrote it and played guitar on the Five Royales' original. On some editions of the album the single My Sweet Potato was replaced by its B-side, Booker-Loo; this is not the case here.
Hip Hug-Her and Doin' Our Thing, from 1967 and 1968, contain some fine playing and conform to the same formula, well-recorded and played with polish, but perhaps sometimes lacking the verve and fire of earlier pieces. Most of each of the albums were recorded in a single day, with a couple of highlights such as Summertime (a masterpiece), Hip Hug-Her and The Beat Goes On having been stockpiled from earlier sessions. No singles were released from Doin' Our Thing. Their version of the Supremes' You Keep Me Hanging On clearly derives from the more contemporary revival by Vanilla Fudge. At the end of You Don't Love Me, Steve Cropper can be heard singing the refrain, the only voice heard throughout the 5 CDs, apart from the occasional grunt, as on the song Green Onions.
Printed information is sparse as the facsimile cardboard sleeves are not of the original vinyl albums but of the 1992 CD re-issues by Rhino, whose information was in the card insert instead.
At this low low price these five great albums are a steal.
There simply is little point in buying a greatest hits complilation when, for around the same price, you get these five great albums.
The albums are if this is not so clear
DOIN' OUR THING
All have been remastered with the last three from the original tapes.
Green Onions was an original remaster from the Mono recording and I really recommend you read Jackie P, my fellow reviewer for more detailed info on the remastering.
The five albums come in cheap cardboard sleeves just like the original LPs and my goodness these would not win any awards for design- they are like something out of Madmen -heck even Ronco and the old Lps that were covers of original singles that had naff art work of some 'Dolly Bird' would blush if they produced these designs.
However they do have a charm and when you place all 5 together there is a definite colour coded scheme running through.
I loaded them up onto my Brennan's hard disc.
Strangely 4 of the albums were recognised instantly the 4th Hip, Hug Her was not recognised at all.)
So there you have it.
5 great classic albums of wonderful musicianship at an incredible low price.
Much as I love the boys at Muscle Shoals, for me it's over in Memphis that, after growing out of the Mar-Keys, Booker T and the MGs are THE house soul band - and there's plenty here in this five LP bargain box set to back it up. If I was absolutely forced to choose one of these I'd go for the fun funk of And Now, from 1966, as their earlier bluesy sound morphs into something considerably more urban and aggressive, as Donald "Duck" Dunn joins the band on bass. Smile to learn that one of my favourites (No matter what shape) became an Alka-Seltzer advert. No brainer for any lover of soul music or superb musicianship brought out by spare, understated arrangements - buy!
on 16 April 2014
Booker T & the Mg's had two big hits over here in Great Britain, Green Onions, and Time is Tight; this set of CD's proves just how talented they were, producing some great music at the time.
A must have for Booker T and the Mg's fans.
For those who do not know of this group they produced instrumental music so don't expect lyrics there are none; but you may recall the name of the bass player from the Blue's Brothers film - Donald 'Duck' Dunn unfortunately he died in the last two years