The house band for Stax/Volt, Booker T. and the MG's are perhaps the greatest backing band of all time - looking at a list of the singles and albums they played on for Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and many others - one begins to feel a dizzying sense of awe.
The MG's were tighter and looser than any other band of their era, the relaxed funky interplay between players feels not merely telepathic, but organic, as if these musicians literally shared the same lungs and nerves.
Guitarist Steve Cropper plays tastefully minimalist, keeping to the rhythm only to leap out at you all the more with his brief tasty leads. Booker T.'s gritty swirling Hammond keyboards do the same, and drummer Al Jackson Jr. along with bassist Donald 'Duck' Dunn lay down the most rock-solid groove in history.
There is however only so far you can go with an album of Soul instrumentals, and while I'd hardly call this 'soul muzak' (David Wilson's term) the disc does wear thin, depending as it does on reworkings of outside material.
The big hit was "One Mint Julep", which is instantly recognizable after just a couple of bars, and really is the MGs at their funky smokey best. But despite the terrific sound, this mainly just aids appreciation of the classic Stax/Volt records by Otis, Aretha, et al, and will have you running for those instead. Rated:
by Reviewer: Creative Noise