Booker T. & the M.G.s | Green Onions – 1962

A glimpse into a world that wasn’t

A child in Melbourne, three years old. I remember a child’s blanket, and big cars, and mushroom picnics. We would drive out of Melbourne into the fields search f0r mushrooms, rugged up against colder and more monotone days. The cars were big and black and heavy, and everybody smoked and had machine guns. I have very few coherrent memories of this, having arrived from Adelaide 18 months earlier, and only being 3.

Booker T & the M.G.s were are very tight four piece. Booker T Jones on organ, Al Jackson on drums, Steve Cropper on guitar, and Lewie Steinberg on bass (replaced in 1964 by Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn). This album shows glimpses of the band that was the house band for Stax records, and would support such Soul greats as; Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. The were the first racially integrated band. Members of the band would co-write, Dock of the Bay, Knock on Wood, and In the Midnight Hour and but would go on to become the core of the Blues Brothers. So why is this album so boring?

I think the problem is Booker T. The push button organ sounds like the soundtrack to a Tarrantino film, just before the blood starts to flow.

The stand out track is, of course, Green Onions. It was taken from a jam while the band was sitting around waiting to cut a radio jingle. It was  a hit before either the band or the song had a name, having been played four times in succession on local radio. Part of the joy of it is the loose feel, from a very tight band. When the guitar break first comes in, you can hear the volume being adjusted while Steve plays. The sharpness of the guitar balances the smooth sound of the organ, a sound that becomes cloying on the rest of the album.

The album is a jazz, soul and blues mix – but very different to the Ray Charles. There are Cha Cha tracks, Twist tracks. An odd mix, shows the bands versatility, but did I mention that it’s boring, with some glimpse of class and rock and roll. Twist and Shout has some nice guitar breaks, I’ve got a woman, some of the organ is nice. Maybe this is a reflection of Melbourne, 1962 – or maybe I’m too harsh. 1962, the music change was building pace. It was the year of the Twists

Side one
  1. “Green Onions” (Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones, Lewie Steinberg, Al Jackson, Jr) – 2:45
  2. “Rinky Dink” (David Clowney, Paul Winley) – 2:39
  3. “I Got a Woman” (Ray Charles, Renald Richard) – 3:32
  4. “Mo’ Onions” (Cropper, Jackson, Jones, Steinberg) – 2:50
  5. “Twist and Shout” (Phil Medley, Bert Berns) – 2:09
  6. “Behave Yourself” (Cropper, Jackson, Jones, Steinberg) – 3:45
Side two
  1. “Stranger on the Shore” (Acker Bilk, Robert Mellin) – 2:18
  2. “Lonely Avenue” (Doc Pomus) – 3:25
  3. “One Who Really Loves You” (Smokey Robinson) – 2:22
  4. “You Can’t Sit Down” (Dee Clark, Kal Mann, Cornell Muldrow) – 2:46
  5. “A Woman, a Lover, a Friend” (Sidney Wyche) – 3:15
  6. “Comin’ Home Baby” (Bob Dorough, Ben Tucker) – 3:09

I thought this album was a weird, until I reviewed the Australian Top 100 from 1962. Maybe every years top 100 is full of weirdness, but there are some very odd and wonderful things on the list below, not the least being Old Rivers, Walter Brennan. He was the star of ‘To Have and Have Not’ outshining Bogart and Bacall, (despite the fact he is always the second person you look at in the photo on the right).

Top 100 Hits of 1962
1. Roses Are Red, Bobby Vinton
2. I Can’t Stop Loving You, Ray Charles
3. The Twist, Chubby Checker
4. Stranger On The Shore, Mr. Acker Bilk
5. The Stripper, David Rose
6. Johnny Angel, Shelley Fabares
7. The Loco-Motion, Little Eva
8. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Neil Sedaka
9. Mashed Potato Time, Dee Dee Sharp
10. Soldier Boy, Shirelles
11. Hey! Baby, Bruce Channel
12. The Wanderer, Dion
13. Duke Of Earl, Gene Chandler
14. Good Luck Charm, Elvis Presley
15. Let Me In, Sensations
16. Wolverton Mountain, Claude King
17. Slow Twistin’, Chubby Checker
18. It Keeps Right On A-hurtin’, Johnny Tillotson
19. The One Who Really Loves You, Mary Wells
20. Palisades Park, Freddy Cannon
21. Midnight In Moscow, Kenny Ball
22. Sheila, Tommy Roe
23. Twistin’ The Night Away, Sam Cooke
24. Wah-Watusi, Orlons
25. Peppermint Twist, Joey Dee and The Starlighters
26. Break It To Me Gently, Brenda Lee
27. Playboy, Marvelettes
28. Ramblin’ Rose, Nat King Cole
29. Sealed With A Kiss, Brian Hyland
30. She Cried, Jay and The Americans
31. Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You, Connie Francis
32. Dear Lady Twist, Gary
33. Norman, Sue Thompson
34. Love Letters, Ketty Lester
35. Party Lights, Claudine Clark
36. Cotton Fields, Highwaymen
37. Alley Cat, Bent Fabric
38. Twist And Shout, The Isley Brothers
39. Theme From Dr. Kildare, Richard Chamberlain
40. Tuff, Ace Cannon
41. Lover, Please, Clyde Mcphatter
42. I Know, Barbara George
43. Young World, Rick Nelson
44. Baby It’s You, Shirelles
45. Speedy Gonzales, Pat Boone
46. A Little Bitty Tear, Burl Ives
47. Crying In The Rain, Everly Brothers
48. Al Di La’, Emillo Pericoli
49. Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out), Ernie Maresca
50. What’s Your Name, Don and Juan
51. Smoky Places, Corsairs
52. Having A Party, Sam Cooke
53. Green Onions, Booker T and The MG’s
54. You Don’t Know Me, Ray Charles
55. Sherry, Four Seasons
56. Johnny Get Angry, Joanie Sommers
57. Can’t Help Falling In Love, Elvis Presley
58. Shout, Joey Dee
59. Rinky Dink, Dave “Baby” Cortez
60. Moon River, Henry Mancini
61. Ahab The Arab, Ray Stevens
62. Things, Bobby Darin
63. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Gene Pitney
64. You Belong To Me, Duprees
65. Dream Baby, Roy Orbison
66. Snap Your Fingers, Joe Henderson
67. Lovers Who Wander, Dion
68. Let’s Dance, Chris Montez
69. Cindy’s Birthday, Johnny Crawford
70. You Beat Me To The Punch, Mary Wells
71. You’ll Lose A Good Thing, Barbara Lynn
72. Uptown, Crystals
73. Everybody Loves Me But You, Brenda Lee
74. Patches, Dickie Lee
75. Venus In Blue Jeans, Jimmy Clanton
76. Love Me Warm And Tender, Paul Anka
77. Teen Age Idol, Rick Nelson
78. She’s Got You, Patsy Cline
79. Dear One, Larry Finnegan
80. Her Royal Majesty, James Darren
81. Little Diane, Dion
82. Funny Way Of Laughin’, Burl Ives
83. A Swingin’ Safari, Billy Vaughn
84. Soul Twit, King Curtis
85. P.T. 109, Jimmy Dean
86. Old Rivers, Walter Brennan
87. Percolator (Twist), Billy Joe and The Checkmates
88. Twist, Twist Senora, Gary
89. Twistin’ Matilda, Jimmy Soul
90. Gravy, Dee Dee Sharp
91. If I Had A Hammer, Peter, Paul and Mary
92. Tell Me, Dick and Deedee
93. I’ll Never Dance Again, Bobby Rydell
94. I’m Blue, Ikettes
95. Where Have All The Flowers Gone, Kingston Trio
96. (Girls, Girls, Girls) Were Made To Love, Eddie Hodges
97. Town Without Pity, Gene Pitney
98. Walk On The Wild Side, Jimmy Smith
99. I Wish That We Were Married, Ronnie and The Hi-lites
100. Surfin’ Safari, Beach Boys
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One Response to Booker T. & the M.G.s | Green Onions – 1962

  1. Pingback: A life in albums | michaelsprott

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