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Who was/is Booker T & The M.G.'s / Mar-keys ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more


Booker T. & The MG's

Boot-Leg

Booker T. & The MG's

Boot-Leg

Unlike Motown's Funk Brothers, shrouded in anonymity to ensure they wouldn't abandon their session duties for greener pastures, Booker T. & The MG's were encouraged by Stax Records to cut instrumentals when they weren't cooking behind Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, and William Bell as the Memphis studio's house rhythm section. The skin-tight quartet blasted all the way to #3 pop and the peak of the R&B hit parade their first time out on Stax in 1962 with the driving Green Onions, their encores Mo' Onions and Soul Dressing making smaller impacts.

The MG's originally consisted of organist Booker T. Jones (born November 12, 1944 in Memphis), guitarist Steve Cropper (born October 21, 1942 near Dora, Missouri but raised in Memphis from age nine), drummer Al Jackson, Jr. (born November 27, 1934 in Memphis), and bassist Lewie Steinberg, though by 1965 he'd been replaced by Cropper's childhood buddy and former Mar-Keys bandmate Donald 'Duck' Dunn, born November 24, 1941 in Memphis. "I went in and played on some Booker T. stuff, so then they asked me to join the band," says Dunn. "It was a pleasure to go in the studio, and just to play with Al Jackson every day. He just made you a better musician." Agrees Cropper, "He was definitely the best drummer around."

Quite a few of the integrated band's instrumentals were studio concoctions. "You never know what you're going to come up with when you sit down to write. A lot of those ideas came about by trying to come up with a groove for another song," says Steve. "A lot of things we would write really didn't seem to work for a full vocal idea, but they worked as riffs. A lot of the other times, whenever we exhausted the ideas that we brought to the session, then we'd sit there and try to kind of come up with grooves and enhance them a little bit, get Al to look at it from a different perspective, and try to change the beat and do something different with it." 

Boot-Leg was The MG's' hottest seller since Green Onions at #10 R&B and #58 pop. Not only was it Dunn's first recording as an MG, Booker T. wasn't there when they cut it. "That's Isaac Hayes playing organ," reveals Duck. "Booker was in college, and was supposed to get back." Also on hand was Charles 'Packy' Axton, son of Stax co-owner Estelle Axton and tenor saxman with The Mar-Keys, the horn-powered combo that gave Stax one of its first major hits in 1961 (when it was still called Satellite), the infectious instrumental Last Night.  A jaunty mix of Cropper's chopping axe, Hayes' supple organ, and Axton's greasy sax, Boot-Leg was originally intended to be a Mar-Keys release, since it sported a horn section. Booker T. soon returned from the University of Indiana, and the MG's extended their hit streak into the next decade.

 

- Bill Dahl -

Various - Sweet Soul Music

Various - Sweet Soul Music 30 Scorching Classics From 1965

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