Pop & Rock
VOICES Notes and news on Pop & Rock releases
11 DEC 08 DAVID VIENNA
My wife calls "Green Onions" by Booker T. & The MGs "the coolest song in rock 'n' roll." Considering she toured with the Kinks and, as a child, partied with Elton John, I think she has the clout. Plus, she's right. The undeniable coolness of this and other songs explodes on Time Is Tight, a comprehensive box set available on Stax.
Booker T. Jones (organ), Steve Cropper (guitar), Donald "Duck" Dunn (bass, who followed original bassist Lewie Steinberg) and Al Jackson, Jr. (drums) were the Stax records house band, providing music for pretty much every artist to record on the venerable Memphis label. Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave -- they may have been the stars, but Booker and the boys made them sound great.
The 3-disc set Time Is Tight, however, solely features the MGs in all their instrumental glory. From the aforementioned "Green Onions" and cuts like "Soul Limbo" to colorful interpretations of hits such as Otis Redding's "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay," with Neil Young on vocals, the set plays like a groovy retrospective of soul. There are also some rare B-sides and a handful of tracks from their reunion in the 90s.
The substantial booklet included in the set is filled with great photos of the members throughout their careers and a thorough history of the band and era from Rob Bowman, author of Soulsville, U.S.A. - The Story of Stax Records.
After listening to the set, I think my wife is only partially right. "Green Onions" is not just the coolest band in rock 'n' roll. Booker T. & The MGs could be the coolest band in rock 'n' roll. And R&B. And soul.