Godfathers of northern soul start a 60th birthday gig

Stax Classics' 60th anniversary is marked with a series of 12-track albums, including one featuring Booker T and the MG's.  Photo supplied by Pomona Books and Music.
Stax Classics' 60th anniversary is marked with a series of 12-track albums, including one featuring Booker T and the MG's. Photo supplied by Pomona Books and Music.
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Booker T and the MG’s, Stax Classics, Concord Music Group, Out Now

Generations of cricket fans are familiar with American band Booker T and the MG’s without even realising it.

The original sound of “Soulsville USA”, as Memphis is known, not only gave birth to Oscar winners Kathy Bates (Misery, 1991) and Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby, 2005), but also the band responsible for “Soul Limbo”, the BBC’s cricket theme in the 1970s and ’80s.

To mark the 60th anniversary of legendary soul label, Stax Records, 12 of the group’s most recognisable singles are found on one album.

It opens with a song even more famous than “Soul Limbo”, the 1962 hit “Green Onions” that arguably paved the way for other instrumental hits like Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”, “The Hustle by Van McCoy and Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross”.

In fact such is their connection to “Green Onions” that three more of the album’s tracks are essentially reboots of the group’s first major hit, “Jellybread, Mo’ Onions and One Mint Julep”.

But there are also hints of a Caribbean influence in “Soul Dressing, Groovin and Melting Pot”, the last song, in particular, drawing the scenic soundtracks popularised by the late 1960s’ TV and film detectives’ craze.

Review by Winston Brown