Booker T. & the MG’s – The Best of Booker T. & the MG’s

Despite having a great love for the Stax/Volt sound, despite loving almost everything they ever produced, I have to admit that I rarely put on Booker T and the MGs. When I go instrumental, I nearly always go in the direction of The Ventures or Los Straitjackets. But then, every time I do put on Booker T, I realize that I really should be listening to more Booker T. Because, wow.

I think I picked this up on discount in the death throes of the vinyl industry, when back catalog greatest hits type stuff was going for nearly nothing. (That’s how I got a LOT of my classical collection.) CDs were killing vinyl, and they needed to make room in the stores for the long boxes that CDs came in then. Vinyl from 20 years ago had to go. So that’s probably around 1988, 1989. It didn’t get a lot of plays. I’ve got more Booker T on CD, and in a giant Stax/Volt CD box set. And I just put this on to write this entry up and . . . I mean, seriously. It’s Booker T and the MGs. Not only Booker T on that Hammond B3 organ, but also the previously mentioned Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn (somehow, most famous for being in The Blues Brothers band, despite having had a hand in one of the most important sounds of the ’60s, the sound of Stax/Volt soul). It’s unbelievable. And having not been played, the vinyl is pristine.

Listening to this right now, on the brand new top-to-bottom stereo rig I decided I deserved for Christmas and, just, wow. These guys define tight and soulful. From the first notes of “Hip-Hug-Her,” the same thing happens to me every time I put this on — I think, I really need to listen to more of this. You’ve heard a thousand covers of “Summertime”? Listen to this one:

Had Gershwin lived another 30 years, he’d have been lucky enough to hear this version of “Summertime.”

If you aren’t familiar, listen to Booker T’s amazing Tiny Desk Concert. You may cry:

Oh, YOU didn’t cry when he talked about his organ teacher.

Oh, if you dig these sounds and you’re in the vicinity of West Chester, PA, I highly recommend you check out The Sermon. They’re keeping this music alive, and absolutely killing it at the same time.

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