As the Stax house band, Booker T. & The M.G.â€™s were often heard backing seminal recordings by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave and other label stars, but their career as a standalone group also produced iconic singles, B-sides and albums. Real Gone pulls together the original mono mixes of the groupâ€™s first 15 singles, Aâ€™s and Bâ€™s, to highlight the hits and deep-grooved flips of the bandâ€™s first six years. The hits include their chart-topping 1962 debut, â€œGreen Onions,â€ and a pair of crossover Top 40â€™s from 1967, â€œHip Hug-Herâ€ and a cover of the Rascalsâ€™ â€œGroovinâ€™.â€ The latter kicked off a string of crossover hits that stretched into 1969 (and will hopefully be anthologized on Volume 2). In between, the group delivered catchy singles that touched the bottom of the Top 100 while generating bigger success on the R&B chart.
The bandâ€™s debut album was filled with instrumental covers, but their singles featured original mid-tempo groovers built on soulful organ leads, searing guitar solos, and propulsive backbeats. The groupâ€™s first B-side, â€œBehave Yourselfâ€ is a dark, late-night blues, but their second single, â€œJelly Bread,â€ turns the tempo up as Jones vamps behind Cropperâ€™s introductory guitar riffs. The rhythm section of Jackson and Steinberg get everyone moving for 1964â€™s â€œCanâ€™t Be Still,â€ and Isaac Hayes reportedly keys the organ on the follow-up â€œBoot-Leg.â€ 1966â€™s â€œMy Sweet Potatoâ€ trades organ for piano, as does the country-inflected â€œSlim Jenkins Place.â€ The setâ€™s covers include Buster Brownâ€™s â€œFannie Mae,â€ Gershwinâ€™s â€œSummertime,â€ a pair of holiday releases, and, under the title â€œBig Train,â€ the gospel classic â€œThis Train.â€
Real Gone has packed twenty-nine original sides onto a single 74-minute CD, with liner notes and discographical detail by Ed Osborne, and mastering by Dan Hersch. For the vintage minded, theyâ€™ve produced a limited-edition 2-LP set on blue vinyl with a gatefold cover. Shorn of album tracks and the temporal condensation of greatest hits albums, this chronological recitation of the groupâ€™s mono singles showcases what listeners heard through their radios at the time. Album sales would later become a central focus of both the recording ethos and marketing strategy of music groups, but in the early-to-mid-60s, singles were still the lingua franca of pop music, and Booker T. & The M.G.â€™s made some great ones! [Â©2020 Hyperbolium]