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A 3-CD, 65-song boxed set that includes all their hits from 1962-1971, plus numerous LP tracks and rarities! Their first hit Green Onions kicks the party off, followed by soulful favorites like Mo' Onions; Hip Hug-Her; Chinese Checkers; Jellybread and Groovin' . The second disc captures some great moments, like segments from McLemore Avenue , the quartet's all-instrumental, tune-for-tune answer to Abbey Road . Then on to previously-unreleased live material and rarities-a number of sides here ( Burnt Biscuits; Fannie Mae; Sunday Sermon; MG Party; Meditation ) have never been on CD before! Other oddities include a live medley of James Brown material from 1968; Albert King on vocals for a gritty Born under a Bad Sign ; a 10-minute jam on Time Is Tight ; a 1965 single Hole in the Wall released under the name "the Packers"; a version of (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay with Neil Young on vocals, and more!
Almost an accidental ensemble, Booker T. amp; the MGs came together for a functional reason--to play as the house band for Memphis's Stax Records. But organist Booker T. Jones and guitarist Steve Cropper found alchemy, transforming rhythm-section riffing into an art, slicing through air where listeners expected vocals and doing so with tremendous success on their first single, "Green Onions," which was later featured on the American Graffiti soundtrack. This three-CD set captures the quartet's core in plentiful doses, leading off with their 1961 first salvo and cruising through numerous attempts at remaking the soulful classic. But in tinkering with the "Green Onions" formula, the band found dozens of instrumental variations, much like later, all-instrumental genre straddlers like Medeski Martin amp; Wood. They also found countless hours of work, backing some of Memphis soul's most revered artists (think Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett) and defining a backbone sound of organ and guitar layered over the increasingly vital rhythms of bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn and original drummer Al Jackson. They played expansive minor-key soul, as "Ode to Billie Joe" and many other tunes here attest, and later in the 1960s went on to churn out charting hits and great albums alike. The second CD in this set captures some great moments, especially the segments from McLemore Avenue, the quartet's all-instrumental tune-for-tune riposte to Abbey Road. Later in the set you get Albert King on vocals for a gritty "Born Under a Bad Sign" and then Boz Scaggs and Neil Young fronting the quartet (with Steve Potts or Jim Keltner drumming in place of the long-ago murdered Jackson). This collection will leave you wanting more. --Andrew Bartlett