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Booker T. Jones Is Ageless and “Evergreen” On Expanded CD Reissue

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Booker T Jones - EvergreenWith or without the legendary MGs, Booker T. Jones has always been an evergreen talent.  And now, his 1974 Epic Records LP Evergreen has finally arrived on domestic CD in a generously expanded edition.  Wounded Bird Records has just reissued Evergreen with six bonus tracks, four of which are making their first appearance anywhere.

Keyboard/organ virtuoso Jones first rose to prominence with 1962’s “Green Onions,” still one of the most recognizable instrumental hits of all time.  “Green Onions” was created by the classic MGs line-up of organist Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, drummer Al Jackson Jr. and bassist Lewis Steinberg.  Originally the B-side of the May 1962 Volt single “Behave Yourself,” the catchy, organ-driven blues was quickly flipped, and reissued as an A-side on the Stax label.   The instrumental made it all the way to pole position on the R&B chart, and made an impressive No. 3 placement on the Billboard Hot 100.  Cover versions followed by everyone from Henry Mancini to The Ventures.  By the early part of the 1970s, however, Jones was diversifying from his work at the Stax hitmaking factory – where he supported innumerable other artists in addition to recording with his own group.  Stax was facing significant troubles, and by the end of 1975, the company had filed for bankruptcy.  Booker T. Jones had seen the writing on the wall.  Having exited Stax before its final decline, Jones recorded a series of albums with then-wife Priscilla Coolidge at A&M beginning in 1971, and joined Epic’s roster for Evergreen.

After the jump: all of the details on Evergreen, including a full track listing and order link!

As the original album’s liner notes stated, “[what] makes the evergreen eternal are its eternal roots.  The roots of Booker T.’s music are also eternal: rhythm, blues, rock, roll, calypso, reggae, jazz, folk, ragtime – it’s all there.”  Indeed, you’ll hear all of those influences on the original 12-track album which consists of both vocal and instrumental songs.  Multi-instrumentalist Jones (also the producer of Evergreen) wrote and arranged every piece except for a cover of Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me,” and was supported by a solid line-up of musicians.  Jones shared keyboard duties with Michael Utley (probably best known for his work with Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band), and also played guitar alongside David T. Walker.  Session veteran Jim Keltner shared drum duties with Sammy Creason, and Bobbye Hall Porter added flavor playing the congas.  Jones also appeared on bass with Bob Glaub and Sammy Creason.  Recorded in California, Evergreen naturally has a different, and markedly more laid-back, feel than Booker T.’s storied Memphis recordings.  Following the album’s release, Jones returned to A&M to resume his solo career.  His most recent album, appropriately entitled The Road from Memphis, was released on the Anti- label in 2011.

Wounded Bird has appended the single version of “Evergreen” to this new reissue, along with the Epic non-LP 45 “Life is Funky.”  Four previously unreleased tracks round out the disc, all familiar cover versions: “Take Me to the River,” “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher,” and “Love is Strange,” the latter with Priscilla Coolidge.  Alas, as is typical for Wounded Bird releases, there are no liner notes or remastering credits in the bare-bones booklet.  That said, the new musical discoveries on this reissued Evergreen may well make it a worthwhile purchase for fans of the immortal “Green Onions” man.  It’s available in stores now, and can be ordered at the link below!

Booker T. Jones, Evergreen (Epic LP KE 33143, 1974 – reissued Wounded Bird CD WOU 3143, 2013)

  1. Jamaica Song
  2. Mama Stewart
  3. Tennessee Voodoo
  4. Flamingo
  5. Song for Casey
  6. Evergreen
  7. Country Days
  8. Why Me
  9. Front Street Rag
  10. Lie to Me
  11. Evergreen (Single Version)
  12. Life is Funky
  13. Take Me to the River
  14. Love is Strange (with Priscilla Coolidge)
  15. A Whiter Shade of Pale
  16. (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher

Track 11 from Epic single 8-50031, 1974
Track 12 from Epic single 8-50149, 1975
Tracks 13-16 previously unreleased

Written by Joe Marchese

February 21, 2013 at 14:27

One Response

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  1. As I noted on my Amazon review of this great album – the extras should have been left to gather dust – especially “Love is Strange”

    Mike Williams

    February 21, 2013 at 15:10

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