Green Onions – Booker T and the MGs (1962)

Album no. 32/1001

Excellent piece of musical/movie trivia: this album features two guys from The Blues Brother’s Band, Steve Cropper and Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn.

It also has the title track, which has been used in everything from American Graffiti to The Sandlot to Supernatural. Why? Because it’s a banger!

This is the band’s ‘debut’ album, although they were the house band for Stax records in Memphis, so they had already played on a lot of records by singers like Otis Redding or Wilson Pickett. Their first few tracks came from the band messing around together in between takes of songs for other artists. The band was made up of two white dudes and two black dudes, which was pretty unusual in 1962.

Have you listened to this album before?

NK: I have! This is the first album I already had. Only 32 in, get around it. I got onto Booker T and the MGs because I was trying to track down the song that plays in the mall chase scene in Blues Brothers. Turns out it’s a mixture of ‘Can’t Turn You Loose’ by Otis Redding (guess who the backing band is) and a Booker T original called ‘Time is Tight’. From there I worked my way back to Green Onions.

CL: No. What a stupid name for an album. 

Standout track

NK: Not to be too obvious, but it’s ‘Green Onions’. It’s so good. There are some other good ones though. ‘You Can’t Sit Down’ is really fun, ‘Behave Yourself’ is great, and I quite like their version of ‘Twist and Shout’. I was interested to hear this after Back at the Chicken Shack. The organ is there, there are no words to speak of, kind of bluesy, but this is really focused compared to that. All the songs are shorter, and there are more riffs. You can tell they cut their teeth playing on soul and pop songs. They have some other really fun stuff too, there’s an album called ‘McLemore Avenue’ which is like an instrumental tribute to ‘Abbey Road’. It’s pretty good!

CL: I definitely kept waiting for singing. DIDN’T REALISE IT WAS AN INSTRUMENTAL. So that automatically puts me offside. ‘Mo’ Onions’ is pretty good. Mo’ Onions, Mo’ Problems? (Yes. Onions are gross.) This is better than Back At The Chicken Shack – the songs definitely move. But I did not enjoy ‘Twist and Shout’. I much prefer when the songs have minimal organ. Organ sucks. ‘Behave Yourself’ is awful! ‘One Who Really Loves You’ goes alright though.  

NK: WHAT.

CL: I thought I’d be forgiven for not liking this album with my Mo Onions, Mo Problems line?

NK: Yes, but still I’m a bit sad.

CL: OH MY GOD. ‘Comin Home Baby’ is in the movie Getting Even With Dad. My sister will be the only one who appreciates that reference, but my mouth FELL OPEN when I heard this. Oh, that has made my day!

NK: Is that the movie where Ted Danson is an ex-con with a ponytail who works as a cake decorator and Macauley Caulkin is his son who comes to stay with him and he ends up having to do one last job? Man, Booker T and the MGs were everywhere.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

NK: Whenever you want! It’s great. I put it on when I’m working sometimes, there are no lyrics so it doesn’t really get in the way.

CL: Organ sucks.

NK: Are there any organ songs you do like? Whiter shade of pale? Lazy? Light my fire?

CL: No… oh, wait. No I like ‘Light My Fire’.

NK: To be honest I don’t really like ‘Light My Fire’. I’m not into The Doors much.

CL: WHAT THE FUCK? WHAT?! We can’t have this conversation here, we’ll have to wait until we get to The Doors in 13 weeks time.

NK: Death by Discography; tearing our friendship apart one album at a time.

CL: I hated you before this.

Why has this album been included on the list?

NK: I think you can sort of see the links from the jazzier stuff Jimmy Smith was doing, with the organ and the jamming together. Plus these guys played on a LOT of records for other people, they were the basis of the Stax Memphis soul sound. Also two white guys and two black guys was a bit of a break with convention.

CL: Who cares if they broke with convention. Organ sucks. Aside from this, I think they’re certainly good musicians, but they definitely sound like a backing band. Chuck a singer out the front! Heaps of these songs would be improved ten-fold with the addition of a vocalist. Someone like Otis. I like Otis!

Will you be listening again?  

NK: You bet!

CL: Not to the whole album, no sir. Probably ‘Green Onions’. Organ sucks.

Rating

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to Green Onions on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

3 thoughts on “Green Onions – Booker T and the MGs (1962)

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