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Green Onions
Format: Audio CD|Change
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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 Originally issued in the USA on Volt 101 - it was quickly withdrawn and reissued on Stax 127 with the languid "Behave Yourself" as its classy B-side.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...
22 Comments| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 30 August 2011
I can still recall the disappointment when I played this album - the LP version that is - in a record shop which you were allowed to do in those days. My expectation was enormous founded as it was on that (still) awesome single. Unfortunately there was hardly anything of note on the album other than that single and its not quite so magnificent but still ridiculously good, flip side. To digress on "Behave youself" for a second or so, Booker plays a slow blues very nicely accompanied by not much more than bass and drums, then at one minute 30 seconds in, Cropper comes in with a an absolutely electric descending riff. He then drops back to background thrusts but is there with that great riff again after another minute or so. You keep waiting for him to come in ....

Sorry for wandering but "Onions" and "Behave" are so much better than anything else here, and, since the latter won't be familiar to most people I thought it warranted a bit of description.

Back to the plot. "Onions" is the lead-in track. Then we get "Rinky Dink" which had been a hit for a guy called Dave "Baby" Cortez, a minor R&B organist and pianist, earlier in 1962 (the year of this album's release). This was Cortez's sole hit. It wasn't bad but hardly memorable. Booker's version sounds even less interesting than Cortez which is saying something. In fact it sounded like a guy on a fairground organ. With "I got a woman" things looked up a bit with a much more upbeat backing and Booker doing what he can with the theme but they don't really manage to retain the interest.

And that's largely how it goes. The strong impression one gets is that the guys were rushed into the studio, and they scrabbled around for songs - some were current or recent instrumental hits, some were R&B standards, some were soul numbers they'd worked on at Stax - versions of the latter here sound like little more than backing tracks. Seemingly they didn't even get an adequate amount of time to work on the numbers - but remember these guys were very young, Booker himself was only 17, and their musical judgement was hardly fully formed.

Perhaps the worst thing on the album is "Stranger on the Shore". The original (by British clarinettist Acker Bilk) represented everything I disliked about the UK hit parade at that time (sorry Acker and it`s not bad, really, loads more people than me say so). The version heard here sounds as if you're in a bar in Tenerife and some old guy is playing the toon - this was really desperate stuff. Things do look up a bit for "Lonely Avenue" and "You can't sit down" but before giving out too many plaudits for the latter, have a listen to the original by the Phil Upchurch Combo. This knocks the MG's version into a cocked hat for enthusiasm, energy and sheer bounce.

Sorry, sorry, sorry, I really wanted this to be good. I never did buy the vinyl but eventually did pick up the CD which unfortunately just confirmed my initial impressions. And it's only three stars because of the presence of that single.
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on 19 June 2012
One of the classic albums of the sixties, no collection is complete without it .
Every song as good as the last ...but only if you play it in a CD player , if you want to convert it to MP3's for your ipod or other media player via your computer then it aint going to work ...If it has DRM then nobody is saying or the warning is well hidden & quite possibly in invisible ink . It will not play on any of the three laptops I have access to , the files show up as 44mb and play as silence...great on CD player mind !
You could of course buy a CD player if you don't have one but that makes a cheap CD rather expensive , you could just download the MP3s at almost twice the price for half the quality .
If you don't have a CD player it'll make a good coaster , bird scarer or shiny Frisbee (they fly really well , mine is now stuck in a tree about 40 meters away scaring the birds)...overall great music on a small unplayable space age Frisbee !
I will have to down load the album from itunes , there's no point throwing good money after bad on here!
5 stars from the music none for the CD .
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on 30 July 2016
I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. I was in a record shop in Stafford in Staffordshire UK in 1965 or 66. I heard it, I liked it, and bought it. It was an EP record and at the time it cost me all of my pocket money save for the bus fare home! I still have it somewhere. So when I saw this record I bought it again, and I'm not sorry I did. Its in Mono and the quality is very high, and the quality of the recording is very good.

Of you like Booker T & the MG's you'll love this, and if you don't, then why the are you buying it?
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on 12 October 2017
i could not wait for this CD to arrive and it did within a few days. it is a brilliant collection of Booker T and The MG's songs. what i particularly like with this product is that the songs are repeated twice, first with vocals and secondly without. This gives you a different feel to the songs and lets you appreciate the musical talents of these guys. i rerally recommend it.
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on 15 September 2003
This is what happens when a group of guys have an unexpected monster smash hit. In 1962, while in the studio jamming, a seventeen year old prodigy named Booker T. Jones, a twenty-one year old guitarist named Steve Cropper, and a couple of veterans of the Memphis music scene came up with something that Stax Records president Jim Stewart deemed good enough for release. Needing a B-side, Cropper suggested working up something Jones had been playing around with some time earlier. What was supposed to be a B-side excited Cropper, and local DJs quickly began to flip the "Behave Yourself" single to the other side, and "Green Onions" began to create quite a stir. Quickly, the sides were reversed, and "Green Onions", with it's groovin' riff, Booker T.'s funky organ lines, and cutting edge guitar bursts courtesy of Cropper became Stax's biggest hit at the time, reaching number three on the national Pop charts and topping the R&B charts. The group, now billing themselves as Booker T. & the MGs (Memphis Group), released this solid, if unspectacular instrumental album later that year.
As could be expected, they weren't really able to recreate the hit single's magic, and besides that title track, the rest of the album comes across today as sounding pretty dated. This album should not be bought to familiarize listeners with Booker T. & the MGs. Cropper, Jones, drummer Al Jackson, Jr., and later Donald "Duck" Dunn (who would replace original bassist Lewie Steinberg) are widely considered to be the tightest, most soulful, and versatile band of all time. They would go on to be the house band at Stax, playing behind Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Albert King, Eddie Floyd, Johnnie Taylor, Rufus and Carla Thomas, and more. They provided the blueprint for Soul music, and set a standard of excellence that nobody since has come close to meeting. On their own, they released over a dozen brilliant singles, and several terrific albums.
However, other than the timeless title track, there is nothing on the album that is a "must hear". And "Green Onions" can be found on MGs compilations, box sets, and countless soundtracks. Make no mistake about it though, the album, for what it is, is quite good. This isn't a garage band rushing to sell an album cause they had a hit. Lewie Steinberg was very accomplished, and Al Jackson, though just a few years older than Steve Cropper, had been playing in his father's Jazz/Swing band since he was five years old! And as well as Cropper's groundbreaking work on the title cut, the young white guitarist showed himself to be equally adept at both Blues and Jazz. His playing is both simple and sophisticated, with the underlying element being taste. And Booker T. Jones played like no seventeen-year-old kid. This being said, there is no real reason to recommend this album, unless you are already familiar with the MGs' greatness, and you want to hear everything they recorded.
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on 25 January 2018
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on 10 June 2017
Can't beat the olduns
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on 31 March 2017
Good copy
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on 22 November 2016
Good quality CD delivered quickly, thanks.

Jim Nelson
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