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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! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 21, 2013 at 14:27

Review: Booker T. & The M.G.s, “Green Onions: 50th Anniversary Edition”

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Stax Records and Concord Music Group have brought the cool to this hot summer.  Music simply doesn’t come much cooler than the hip Green Onions, from Booker T. & the M.G.s.  The landmark album is being celebrated for its fiftieth anniversary in an expanded edition (STX-33960-02, 2012) as part of the ongoing Stax Remasters series that last delivered a new edition of Albert King’s I’ll Play the Blues for You.

The main attraction is doubtless the title song, a favorite of the Blues Brothers which has also been covered by everybody from Henry Mancini to The Ventures.  It’s the perfect convergence of organist Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Lewis Steinberg and drummer Al Jackson, Jr., who also doubled as the Stax house band.  (Donald “Duck” Dunn would later assume the bass reins from Steinberg.)  For two minutes and 55 seconds, these sophisticated and versatile cats offer a deceptively simple instrumental master class.  Three-note riffs and key changes abound in the effortlessly sophisticated, and altogether irresistible, tune.  It was whipped up via improvisation as the other three members built on Jones’ central blues riff redolent of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me,” and created a classic in the process.  Even if the group was torn over the title and still can’t definitively state who suggested it, something about “Green Onions” just stuck.  There, apparently, was a consensus that onions were funky, if stinky – and the resulting song and album was indeed, funky, though certainly not stinky!

The original 1962 LP’s twelve tracks conclusively prove that instrumental music can have as much soul as that coming from a powerhouse vocalist.  It’s not an exaggeration to state that the backing of Booker T.’s band further inspired the supremely passionate singers at Stax; the group was every bit as solid as the Funk Brothers or the Wrecking Crew.  Under their own name, Booker T & the M.G.s played on some 23 singles and 11 albums for the Memphis label.

Hit the jump to keep reading! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 6, 2012 at 10:04

Posted in Booker T. & The MGs, Reissues, Reviews

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Release Round-Up: Week of July 24

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Booker T. & the MGs, Green Onions (Concord/Stax)

The 1962 album from the Stax legends is expanded with two previously issued, live bonus tracks from Los Angeles in 1965.  Read more here.

David Cassidy, Cherish / Rock Me Baby (7Ts/Cherry Red)

The Partridge Family star was on top of the world when he released his first two solo albums in 1972.  They arrive on American shores today as one two-fer!  Read more here.

The Guess Who, # 10 / Road Food (Iconoclassic)

Iconoclassic’s series of expanded and remastered reissues for the Canadian rockers continues with these 1973 and 1974 RCA albums.  Read more here.

Jerry Lee Lewis, The Killer Live! 1964-1970 (Hip-o Select/Mercury)

This limited edition 3-CD set compiles a bevy of live albums from the piano pounder: “Live” At The Star Club, Hamburg and The Greatest Live Show On Earth, both from 1964; 1966’s By Request: More Of The Greatest Live Show On Earth; and 1970’s Live At The International, Las Vegas.  A full 16 bonus tracks, including 10 previously unreleased tracks, round out the set.

Rodriguez, Searching for Sugar Man: Original Soundtrack (Legacy/Light in the Attic)

Never heard of Rodriguez?  Let Legacy and Light in the Attic spin this fascinating yarn about a musician who had no idea that his long-lost LP had acquired a new lease on life: as the soundtrack to a revolution taking place oceans away.  We’ll have more on the amazing story of Rodriguez later today!

Neil Sedaka, The Show Goes On: Live at the Royal Albert Hall (Eagle Rock)

A 2006 set of hit tunes from the “Calendar Girl” and “Laughter in the Rain” hitmaker arrives on CD for the first time.

Sugar, Copper Blue/Beaster (Deluxe Edition) / File Under Easy Listening (Deluxe Edition) (Merge)

American reissues arrive from Bob Mould’s Sugar in modified form from the recent Edsel deluxe editions.   All the DVD content from the Edsel sets has been dropped, along with the BBC session tracks that featured on Copper Blue. All the other copious bonus audio content will be retained, though, with Copper Blue and the Beaster EP brought together as one 3-CD package, and FU:EL as one 2-CD set.  Read more about these Merge Records releases here.

Various Artists, Country Funk 1969-1975 (Light in the Attic)

The anthology experts at Light in the Attic have put together this fun set exploring the crossroads of – yup! – country and funk.  Expect rarities from Bobby (then Bob) Darin, Mac Davis, Tony Joe White, Bobbie Gentry and more!

GZA, Liquid Swords: The Chess Box (Get On Down)

One of The Wu-Tang Clan’s great solo albums from the group’s initial wave, Liquid Swords is expanded with a bonus disc of instrumentals and a collectible chess set package. Read more here!

The Pharcyde, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde: Expanded Edition (Delicious Vinyl)

The underrated alternative hip-hop group gets their debut album expanded 20 years later in a three-disc set featuring a deluxe box and two extra discs of B-sides, remixes and other bonus material.

Slipknot, Antennas to Hell (Roadrunner)

The nu-metal band’s first compilation, featuring either straight hits or a bonus live disc to match. Full story is here.

Jennifer Lopez, Dance Again: The Hits (Epic)

The former American Idol judge’s comeback comes full circle with this compilation of some of the hottest dance floor fillers of the past 15 years. Have a look here.

Expanded “Green Onions” Coming From Booker T. & The MGs

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Concord Music Group continues its Stax Remasters series by dipping into the label’s early days with a bona fide R&B classic.  The title track of Booker T. & The MGs’ 1962 Green Onions is still instantly recognizable today from appearances in television (American Dad) and film (X-Men: First Class), and was in May 2012 inducted into the Library of Congress’ prestigious National Recording Registry.  On July 24, the original Green Onions album will be reissued and expanded with two bonus tracks.

“Green Onions” was created by the classic line-up of organist Booker T. 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 Green Onions album followed that October as the debut long-player from Booker T. & The MGs, and included “Green Onions” as well as “Behave Yourself.”  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, and it remains one of the most beloved songs to come out of the Stax hitmaking factory.

The album was filled with similarly tight playing from the Stax house band on a variety of familiar songs and originals, including the follow-up, “Mo’ Onions.”  (Belatedly released as a single in 1964, “Mo’ Onions” hit the Hot 100 Pop and R&B Singles charts.)  Reissue producer Nick Phillips stated, “Beyond ‘Green Onions,’ which was their biggest hit single, there are so many other great songs on this album which Booker T. & The MGs transformed into timeless R&B instrumental classics, like ‘Comin’ Home Baby,’ ‘Twist and Shout,’ and Ray Charles’s ‘I Got a Woman.’ No matter what song they started with, by the time they were done with it, it was uniquely and unmistakably their own.”

Hit the jump for more on the new reissue plus the track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 27, 2012 at 14:02

Review: Charles “Packy” Axton, “Late Late Party: 1965-67”

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Were there a Stax family portrait, label founders Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton would undoubtedly be surrounded by any number of the famed artists they shepherded to fame: Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Eddie Floyd and the Wicked Wilson Pickett, to name a few.  And lurking somewhere near the corner of the frame, in the shadows, would be Charles “Packy” Axton, his saxophone in tow, looking for the nearest party.  Though Axton is far from a household name, those musical excavation specialists at Light in the Attic have made a substantial case that Charles “Packy” Axton is far more than a footnote to the Stax story.  Late Late Party: 1965-67 (LITA CD 067, 2011) brings together seventeen slices of greasy, delicious, deep Southern soul by largely unknown artists like The Martinis, Stacy Lane, L.H. and the Memphis Sounds and The Pac-Keys.  What do they all have in common?  It’s the sound of Packy Axton, wailing on his saxophone to wake the neighbors!

It’s appropriate that the vintage cover photo of Axton, Don Nix and Steve Cropper is in front of the Satellite Records address (later Stax), for Axton existed in the orbit of Stax, though none of this collection’s tracks were on that storied label.  Packy Axton was the son of Estelle Axton and nephew of her brother Jim Stewart, Stax co-founders.  He was musically at the ground floor of the label empire, too, playing on the Mar-Keys’ “Last Night.”  While he didn’t initially impress bandleader Steve Cropper, it was soon discovered that his mother owned a recording studio, and Packy was in the band!  Despite Stewart’s initial reluctance to release the track, “Last Night” went No. 2 R&B and No. 3 pop.  It positioned Stax on the road to success.  But Axton was ostracized from that inner circle, despite his mother having a role in calling the shots.  Stewart disapproved of his casual approach, eccentric manner and wild ways, and Packy found himself on the periphery of greatness.

What wild sounds will you find on Late Late Party?  Just hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 31, 2011 at 13:51

Release Round-Up: Week of May 10

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Aerosmith, Tough Love: Best of the Ballads (Geffen/UMe)

Geffen augments the craziness of American Idol host/Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler (who has a solo single out today) by putting out a compilation of the band’s Geffen-era ballads hits (“Love in an Elevator” isn’t a ballad in any configuration). Apparently it’s only available at Target, so if you visit a local indie store you should be fine. (Official site)

Booker T. & The MG’s, McLemore Avenue / The Staple Singers, Be Altitude: Respect Yourself / Johnnie Taylor, Taylored in Silk (Stax/Concord)

The first three entries in the new “Stax Remasters” series, each augmented with rare or unreleased bonus tracks. (Official Stax site: Booker, Staples, Taylor)

Prince, Dirty Mind / Controversy / 1999 (Vinyl) (Warner Bros.)

New vinyl issues of Prince’s albums from 1980 to 1982. CD remasters? Keep hopin’. (Rhino: Dirty Mind, Controversy, 1999)


The Cars, Door to Door (Friday Music)

A new CD remaster of the band’s 1987 album, which would have been their last had today not also have been the day that their new album, Move Like This, is released. (Friday Music)

Frankie Miller, Frankie Miller…That’s Who! The Complete Chrysalis Recordings 1973-1980 (EMI)

The Glaswegan rocker’s first seven albums across four discs, with some bonuses added in, including the unreleased original mix of 1974’s High Life. (Amazon)

Various Artists, Playlist: The Very Best Of (Legacy)

Another load of Playlist titles from The Psychedelic Furs, Muddy Waters, Matthew Sweet, Teena Marie, Dave Brubeck, Dionne Warwick and more. A full breakdown of each set is here and here. (Amazon)

Weekend News Round-Up: Doobies, Peter Gabriel, Stax and Kansas

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It was such a busy week that reporting has spilled over into the weekend! Enjoy these tidbits from around the rest of the catalogue music world.

  • Eagle Rock is releasing a vintage live CD/DVD by The Doobie Brothers, from their 1982 farewell tour. Live at the Greek 1982 sees a lineup that included sole original member Patrick Simmons on guitar, longtime co-drummer Keith Knudsen (who shared the kit with Chet McCracken, a member since 1980’s One Step Closer), guitarist/violinist John McFee, percussionist Bobby LaKind, sax/keyboard player Cornelius Bumpus, legendary session bassist Willie Weeks and the one and only Michael McDonald leading the band. Founding vocalist Tom Johnston sings guest lead on the penultimate song in the set, the always-great “China Grove,” and finale “Listen to the Music” features a few more classic Doobies, including original drummer John Hartman, bassist Tiran Porter and drummer Michael Hossack. Sixteen tracks feature on the DVD; the CD omits one track (McDonald’s soon-to-be-hit “I Keep Forgettin'”) but adds four more bonus cuts. The set’s out on June 28 and you can get the full breakdown from the always-great MusicTAP.
  • Yesterday, in two sentences, Peter Gabriel’s website likely got fans to break out their copies of So – released 25 years ago yesterday – and speculate on when the promised “celebratory release” would hit shelves and what might be on it. (We’ve speculated too, naturally.)
  • A little while ago we’d posted that there was a new series of Stax remasters coming from Concord Music Group, who owns the venerable label’s catalogue. Those albums are coming out on Tuesday, and there’s two things to note: one, that full track lists are after the jump on this post, and two, that our friends at Popdose are holding a contest through Tuesday to win these three reissues! What’s not to like about that?
  • I always feel remiss about not giving more attention to Rock Candy Records, a U.K. label specializing in pretty well-done reissues and expansions of hard rock titles. Their latest releases, set for May 25, are remastered editions of Kansas’ final albums for Kirshner/Epic, Vinyl Confessions (1982) and Drastic Measures (1983). These albums saw the band in transition; guitarist/keyboardist Kerry Livgren and bassist Dave Hope had both become born-again Christians, and vocalist Steve Walsh had left the group, replaced by Jon Elefante. The albums – the first of which spawned a Top 20 hit in “Play the Game Tonight” – were remastered with the rest of the band’s Sony-controlled back catalogue by Legacy Recordings in 1996, but those have since fallen out of print, making these sets worth it if you’re a fan who missed these the last time around. Amazon U.K. links are after the jump as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 7, 2011 at 15:10

Crossing the Pond: “London American Label 1963” Spotlights Spector and More

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It’s 1963. Imagine a label that counted Roy Orbison, Darlene Love, James Brown, The Drifters and Jerry Lee Lewis all among its artists. While such an array of talent never convened under one roof in America, it was a very different story in the United Kingdom. The U.K.’s  Decca Record Company indeed brought all of those artists, and more, under the umbrella of its London American label. London American delivered the best in American pop, R&B and rock and roll to British audiences. Ace is another British label bringing the best of American music to its listeners, so it seems fitting that the label is in the midst of an ambitious series celebrating the London American legacy. The London American Label Year by Year: 1963 is the fifth volume in the series, which isn’t being released chronologically. It’s available in the United Kingdom and expected to hit stores on our shores any day now.

The London label first appeared in America in 1934 representing British Decca’s operations in America. Back in Britain, the London logo made its debut in 1949 releasing material from its American counterpart, but also from early U.S. independent labels. It was in 1954 that a new prefix (HL) and numbering system (8001) was introduced, and it’s this series that is the focus of the Ace compilations. Some American hit records appeared on EMI’s Columbia, Parlophone and HMV labels, but the cream of the crop was usually on London.

Dedicated readers of The Second Disc know that 1963 may have been the year of Phil Spector. In England, however, it wasn’t the Philles label that boasted Darlene Love, The Crystals and The Ronettes, but rather, the London American label. While controlled by ABKCO, Philles recordings had long been unavailable for various artists compilations.  Since the acquisition of the license to the catalogue by Sony Music Entertainment, the vaults have been opened to labels like Ace. (One wonders if the label is considering an updated Darlene Love anthology; Ace’s So Much Love was a fantastic overview of Love’s career, but couldn’t include any of her most famous sides. Now, inclusion of the Spector-produced tracks would likely be possible.)

Ace producer Mick Patrick drops an interesting tidbit about this volume: “The inclusion of Darlene Love’s ‘A Fine Fine Boy’ here marks the first time the original 45 version has been legally available on CD. (All other digital issues contain a re-edit that is the result of irreparable damage to the original master.)” In addition to that track, Year by Year: 1963 also includes The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me” and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans’ “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” Of those songs, all but “Zip” were co-written by Spector with Ellie Greenwich and her husband Jeff Barry. The famed Greenwich and Barry team appears elsewhere on Ace’s new volume, with Ray Peterson’s “death disc” “Give Us Your Blessing” and the Raindrops’ “What a Guy.” (Ellie and Jeff actually were The Raindrops!)

Who else appears on this volume? Hit the jump for more, plus the complete track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Release Round-Up: Week of April 12

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Bob Dylan, In Concert: Brandeis University, 1963 (Columbia/Legacy)

Did you miss this when it first came to pass as a bonus disc with Amazon orders of the latest Bootleg Series? Here’s your second chance. (Official site)

Danny Elfman, The Tim Burton/Danny Elfman 25th Anniversary Music Box (Warner Bros.)

Can you believe it? These things are finally starting to ship after four months and endless posts of addressing speculation and delays. (Official site)

Jimi Hendrix, South Saturn Delta / Band of Gypsys Live at Fillmore East / Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)

The latest bunch of Hendrix reissues through Legacy are the South Saturn Delta outtakes album, the Band of Gypsys DVD and – perhaps most interesting – a rare tribute compilation featuring Prince, Santana, Sting, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and more. (Official site)

George Benson, Beyond the Blue Horizon / Freddie Hubbard, First Light / Stanley Turrentine, Salt Song / Don Sebesky, Giant Box (CTI/Masterworks Jazz)

Fresh off the Creed Taylor “cool revolution” as encapsulated in the First Impulse! box set from Hip-O Select, Masterworks reissues four classic records from the CTI roster. Three of them are expanded with alternate and rare material. (Amazon: Benson, Hubbard, Turrentine, Sebesky)

Booker T. & The MG’s, The Best of Booker T. & The MG’s / Journey, Infinity (Vinyl) (Friday Music)

Some new vinyl reissues from Friday Music coming to a store near you. (Friday Music: Booker T. & The MG’s, Journey)

Jeff Buckley, Grace (Vinyl) (Columbia/Legacy)

Another vinyl reissue – 180 grams of Grace. (Amazon)

Jack Johnson, Brushfire Fairytales (Everloving)

A 10th anniversary remaster/reissue for the Hawaiian singer-songwriter’s debut record. (Amazon)

And let’s not forget all the releases for Record Store Day this Saturday!

Short Takes: More News on Queen Reissues, Stax Expansions, Howard Jones Box Ships

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  • Queen’s official site issued a press release yesterday confirming a June 13 release date in the U.K. of the next batch of the band’s reissues. News of the World (1977), Jazz (1978), The Game (1980), Flash Gordon (1980) and Hot Space (1982) will comprise this batch. No bonus material has been announced (nor has a U.S. release date been set), but a Deep Cuts compilation will accompany the discs.
  • We have our friends at Vintage Vinyl News to thank for this tip: Concord Records is releasing three expanded albums from the Stax catalogue! The albums, all remastered and expanded with as-yet-unconfirmed bonus material, are Booker T. & The MGs’ McLemore Avenue (1970), The Staple Sisters’ Be Altitude: Respect Yourself (1972) and Johnnie Taylor’s Taylored in Silk (1973).
  • Howard Jones recently let fans know via Twitter and Facebook that his latest box set (The 12″ Album / Action Replay) has begun shipping after a short delay. (A comment from Howard’s team also confirmed remasters of One to One (1986) and Cross That Line (1989) in the pipeline. Has anyone got their box yet?

Written by Mike Duquette

April 6, 2011 at 10:31