Booker T. & The MG's "The Complete Stax Singles Vol. 1 (1962-1967)" 2xLP (Red Vinyl)
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With apologies to groups like The Meters, Bar-Kays, and Average White Band, when it comes to all-time great instrumental R&B bands, for most folks Booker T. & the MG’s represent the gold standard. And with good reason…or, actually reasons! First of all, as the house band of the hallowed Stax label, The MG’s pretty much invented the sound of Southern soul, playing on records by everybody from Otis Redding to Wilson Pickett to Carla Thomas. Second, on their own as Booker T & the MG’s, they came up with some of the most indelible instrumental jams of all time, including—but by no means limited to!—“Green Onions.” And, third, each member of the band was an absolute monster on their instrument, to this day revered and copied by untold numbers of musicians. Indeed, by the time the mid ‘60s rolled around, bands on both sides of the Atlantic wanted to sound like Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Jr, and Lewie Steinberg (replaced about halfway through this collection by the great Donald “Duck” Dunn). And what was that sound? Well, a typical MG’s tune started from the bottom-up, resting on the rock-solid drumbeat of Jackson and the in-the-pocket bass work of Steinberg and, later, Dunn, over which keyboardist Jones and guitarist Cropper traded slinky and/or stinging licks. But these cats weren’t just riff-happy groove masters; Jones basically codified the classic Hammond organ sound and Cropper’s guitar tone remains the Holy Grail of anyone who’s ever picked up a Fender Telecaster. Together, they recorded 49 single sides for Stax under the name of Booker T. & the MG’s, and you’ll find the first 29 (yes, 29!) of ‘em right here, released on a double-LP pressed in red vinyl.