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"...Can't Sit Down..." - Green Onions by BOOKER T & THE M.G.'s (Stax CD Remaster)
on 4 September 2012
Released Monday 3 September 2012 in the UK (22 July 2012 in the USA) - Concord Music Group, Inc 0888072339606 is release number eight in the 2011/2012 "STAX REMASTERS" CD Series and breaks down as follows (43:48 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 12 are the album "Green Onions" - released October 1962 in the USA on Stax Records ST-701 [Mono] and July 1964 in the UK on London HA-K 8182 [Mono].
Tracks 13 and 14 are BONUS TRACKS - "Green Onions (Live)" and "Can't Sit Down (Live)" which first appeared on the 1992 CD "Funky Broadway: Stax Review Live At The 5/4 Ballroom" (previously unreleased tracks at that time).
The new 12-page booklet has very knowledgeable and affectionate liner notes by ROB BOWMAN - the LP's artwork on the front and rear of the booklet (including Bob Altshuler's original 1962 LP liner notes) - session details, Stax Records release info and reissue credits. But once again the big news is the NEWLY REMASTERED SOUND...
I've reviewed all the other titles in the "Stax Remasters" series (see list below) and duly raved about the fabulous sound quality on them - especially after years of lacklustre reissues in jewel cases and repro digipaks. Well this is the same. 24-bit remastered from the first generation tapes at JOE TARANTINO Mastering in Berkeley, California - the audio quality is meaty - especially of course on the slinky organ of Booker T Jones and the guitar-chopping of Steve Cropper.
Named after a vegetable that plagued American gardens in the summertime and played by a group named after a British Sports car - the 7" single "Green Onions" was a bona-fide monster. Originally issued in the USA on Volt 101 - it was quickly withdrawn and reissued on Stax 127 with the languid "Behave Yourself" as its classy B-side. It hit the US charts in August 1962 and made Number 1 R&B and Number 3 Pop. But not only is "Green Onions" absolute classic 60t's Soul - it has to rank as one the greatest instrumentals ever issued - its cool still intact a full 50 years after it blew everyone away and brought dancefloors to life all over the world.
I wish I could say the rest of the album lives up to that high - it doesn't. The covers of The Beatles "Twist And Shout", Acker Bilk's "Stranger On A Shore" and Ray Charles' "Lonely Avenue" are not great - but things pick up considerably with their plucky version of Phil Upchurch's "Can't Sit Down" with fantastic sound quality on Cropper's guitar and Al Jackson's drums. The same applies to their cover of Jackie Wilson's "A Woman, A Lover, A Friend" - with Duck Dunn's bass having a warm sound. The identikit "Mo' Onions" was issued as a 45 in 1963 on Stax 142 and has been a fan favourite ever since (and a big moment in their live shows). It sounds fantastic here. The only real plonkers for me are the two live versions, which hardly warrant the word 'bonus' in my book.
Speaking of 'disappointment' - for fans this is a very good release - better sound and better presentation (even if the supposed extras are dogs). But it has to be said that since the initial flurry of "Stax Remasters" in 2011 which promised a new coming for this fabulous Soul/Funk label (see list below) - 2012 has seen only 2 reissues - Albert King and this? And iconic or not - "Green Onions" is a rather obvious, safe and boring reissue.
To sum up - despite those naff live additions - you do get better sound than that Rhino reissue nearly 20 years ago - improved packaging and a value-for-money pricetag. Recommended...
And please Concord Music? Let's have some Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Soul Children, The Emotions, William Bell, Little Milton, Margie Joseph, Isaac Hayes, Judy Clay, Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett and more of The Staples Singers too...
PS: titles in the "STAX REMASTERS" series are (all reviewed):
1. Green Onions - BOOKER T. & THE M.G.S (1962)
2. McLemore Avenue - BOOKER T. & THE M.G.S (1970)
3. Woman To Woman - SHIRLEY BROWN (1975)
4. Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get - THE DRAMATICS (1972)
5. I'll Play The Blues For You - ALBERT KING (1972)
6. Be Altitude: Respect Yourself - THE STAPLE SINGERS (1972)
7. Taylored In Silk - JOHNNIE TAYLOR (1973)
8. Do The Funky Chicken - RUFUS THOMAS (1970)
PPS: Lovers of ATLANTIC, STAX and VOLT Records should note that as of October 2012 there is a massive reissue program of classic albums going on in Japan - 100+ titles to be exact (which includes Booker T & The MG's). They feature Fifties Blues and R'n'B, Sixties and Seventies Soul, Funk & Fusion. All are budget price (£7.50 per disc) and feature 2012 DSD remastering. Many of these titles are familiar - but a huge number are new to CD. For a full detailed list of these Japanese reissues - see the 'comment' section attached to this review...