This Rhino U.K. 2012 box set rounds up the prime of Booker T. & the MG's, the five albums they released between 1962 and 1968: Green Onions, Soul Dressing, And Now!, Hip Hug-Her, and Doin' Our Thing. Often, Booker T. & the MG's are seen as nothing more than a singles act but these records illustrate just how deeply their gifts ran, as they are all deeply funky, gritty, soulful records that are easy to enjoy. And when they're collected in this convenient little box, they're even easier – and cheaper – to appreciate.
McLemore Avenue is a 1970 album by Booker T. & the M.G.s, consisting entirely of mostly instrumental covers of songs from the Beatles' album Abbey Road (released only months earlier, in September 1969). The title and cover are an homage to the Beatles album, 926 East McLemore Avenue being the address of the Stax studio in Memphis, as Abbey Road was for EMI in London.
Booker T. Jones said, "I was in California when I heard Abbey Road, and I thought it was incredibly courageous of The Beatles to drop their format and move out musically like they did. To push the limit like that and reinvent themselves when they had no need to do that. They were the top band in the world but they still reinvented themselves. The music was just incredible so I felt I needed to pay tribute to it."
Recorded in Munich, Germany, in 1965, the three tracks that make up The Trance come from the same session that produced the invigorating Booker Ervin/Dexter Gordon tenor battles, Settin' the Pace. These remaining tracks feature Ervin's sole tenor on two of his compositions, the blues "Groovin at the Jamboree" and the haunting 19-minute title track, dedicated to the late bassist George Tucker. Also included is the standard "Speak Low," also clocking in at 19 minutes. Admittedly, tracks that long can get tiresome quickly in the wrong hands. Fortunately, Ervin's inspired exploratory tenor flights are consistently stirring, punctuated with piercing blues…