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First time on CD for this 1977 album from the legendary outfit. Booker T. & the MG's was an instrumental R&B group from Memphis who had many charting albums on the Stax label in the late 1960s. The band featured Booker T. Jones on keyboards, Steve Cropper on guitar and Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass.
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Those tracks that rely less heavily on synthesizers on the present CD are in direct lineage with the jazzy feel from the last Stax LP "Melting Pot" and make this a necessary addition to any Booker T. library. All that is missing now on CD from Booker T.and the MGs are the 12 tracks scheduled as "Free Ride" (Stax STX-4104)* but never released and 11 of the 12 tracks* on the "Union Extended" album scheduled as Stax STS 5526 but not released until the now deleted UK Pye/Stax vinyl release in 1976. Maybe Concord or the UK Kent organization may consider finding these long last outings as a final salute to the greatest soul house band ever.
*As per Bob McGrath's "The Soul Discography, Vol. 1 - Eyeball Productions, Vancouver, BC , 2010.
Now THIS IS NOT repetitous of "Time Is Tight" or anything like that. Since those days the MG's had been taking lessons from bands such as The Crusaders who always impressed with their ability to be tight AND loose all at the same time. The result is a totally contemporary mid 70's funk album within that tradition:powerful and diverse. Booker T adds some excellent use of synthesizer,but never overused in the production along with his organ and electric piano work and the rhythm section is at it's melodic best on the ULTRA PHAT funk jams "Sticky Stuff","Grab Bag" and "Tie Stick",all glorious and clean as funk can be. "Space Nuts","Love Wheels" and "Moto Cross" are somewhat faster paced grooves but keep the groove locked right in the funk pocket. Ever aware of the latin aspect of mid 70's funk "Last Tango In Memphis" and "MG's Salsa" add a bit of the spice of latin fusion into the mix with the salsa dance worthy rhythms;both are dancable and catchy grooves deserved of more hit status. The final track "Reincarnation" is a smoother jazz-funk inspired groove with everyone in the band floating smoothly over eachother as easy as 1,2,3.
So if this is a five star album all the way,and there's no doubt that it is than why did it flop commercially? Frankly it's because of albums like this that I'll never understand the music business. The band would step back totally into the public eye as co stars of theThe Blues Brothers hit movie several years later. But all the same this debut album outside of the then defunkt Stax simply faded into the backround like a jet airliner flying past the cloud cover. But for those who pick it up as I did based on name recognition alone or just diehard Stax/Volt fans who will purchase anything with these guys names on it you'll probably start asking the same questions as well. But don't kid yourself either; this shows Booker T & The MG's were not only capable of maintaining their funkiness when the music was changing but could also use it as a base to innovate and expand their own sound. So musically and creatively this album is a 100% success no matter how you cut it and emmerges as a genuine forgotton funk classic.