VOICES Notes and news on New Releases
03 AUG 12 DAVID SHANNON
Even the most casual of music listeners is familiar with the timeless refrain of the classic Booker T. & The MGs tune "Green Onions." As part of the Stax Remasters series, Stax has re-released the entire Green Onions album, lovingly remastered by Joe Tarantino, engineer of a thousand jazz, R&B and rock reissues over the past two decades. The release comes replete with two live bonus tracks and new liner notes by Grammy-winning Stax historian Rob Bowman.
Booker T. & The MGs made a living backing some of the most famous names in music, from Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett to Albert King. However, the band made its name with "Green Onions," which in 1962 reached #1 on the Billboard R&B charts and #3 on the pop charts. Many are unaware that the titular song was hatched as something of a one-off, a regenerating Hammond keyboard groove and a set of guitar licks that clicked one summer day in 1962 at the Stax Records studios in Memphis, Tennessee while the band waited for a scheduled session.
While the four Memphis musicians continued to record as the Stax house band, "Green Onions" set them on a course of steady albums and hit singles, though none as popular as the tune that made them famous. Legend has it that before the band or even the song had been named, Reuben Washington, a DJ at Memphis radio station WLOK, played the track four times in a row, helping introduce the nation to a band that previously had sessioned in relative obscurity.