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Booker T. & The MG's - Soul Men
Stax Records
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
2003-07-10
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Artist: Booker T. & The MG's
Title: Soul Men
Label: Stax Records (www.fantasyjazz.com)
Genre: Rock/Southern Soul, Instrumental, R&B, Memphis Soul

Booker T. & The MG's were The Ventures of soul and rhythm and blues, cutting a majority of each cover track in less than three minutes. In the attention-grabbing liner notes, Steve Cropper talks about the mindset of the band in those days and why they were so successful. He explains how they purposely did covers so people would recognize the songs and wonder what the great instrumentalists had done with a particular number.

Soul Men is a compelling collection of previously unreleased (God knows why) tracks. On the back of the CD cover under the track listing, it reads-"Recorded in the 1960s." The liner notes indicate that they may have been from 1962-65 sessions. The Fantasy Jazz label was smart enough to be general about the dates because nobody was too sure.

Some of the songs like "Spoonful," "The Letter," "Day Tripper" and "Downtown" were readily recognizable to these ears, others I had never heard before, and a few others came disguised so well behind a musical mask manifested by their superior improvisational skills that I could not figure out what it was until I looked at the title. Make sure you turn your bass controls up as far as they can go because this music it is stunning. Each track, transferred from the original master tapes, is a perfected piece of art ready for the most discriminating ears to digest. It all sounds as if they recorded this music yesterday, which speaks volumes for what Fantasy does with their music that has been dormant for so many years.

I would say without hesitation and always will that they were some of the best musicians recording in the '60s. We have yet another goldmine of lost gems recovered to solidify Booker T. & the MGs niche as one of the most dominant forces in the recording of instrumental music.

1. Baby, Scratch My Back - 3:08
2. Harlem Shuffle - 3:10
3. Hi-Heel Sneakers - 3:02
4. Downtown - 2:42
5. I Was Made to Love Her - 2:37
6. Georgia on My Mind - 3:11
7. Wade in the Water - 2:27
8. Fannie Mae - 2:00
9. Day Tripper - 2:50
10. You Left the Water Running- 2:16
11. Every Beat of My Heart– 2:56
12. Ain't That Peculiar - 2:38
13. You Can't Do That - 2:44
14. Wang Dang Doodle - 2:47
15. On a Saturday Night - 2:46
16. The Letter - 2:39
17. Oo Wee Baby, I Love You– 2:59
18. Spoonful - 2:54
19. I Hear a Symphony - 2:09
20. You're So Fine - 2:09
21. Raunchy - 2:47
22. You Are My Sunshine - 3:04
23. Soul Man (Hayes/Porter) - 2:43
24. Gimme Some Lovin' - 2:56
25. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby - 3:38

Performers:
Steve Cropper - Guitar
Ramsey Lewis - Arranger
Roger Armstrong - Compilation, Tape Research
Donald "Duck" Dunn - Bass
Booker T. Jones - Keyboards
Lewis Steinberg - Bass
Al Jackson, Jr. - Drums


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