torsdag 12 maj 2016

Booker T. - Evergreen (Rare Memphis Soul/Funk Album US 1974)

220:- (24-Bit Limited Remaster Edition. Som AMG skriver i sin recension: "one the greatest R&B and soul bands in the history ". Denna Mini LP släpptes 2010.)

Playing organ and keyboards in the MG's, one the greatest R&B and soul bands in the history of pop music, Booker T. Jones was no stranger to the pop world when he recorded Evergreen in 1974. As part of the MG's, he played on innumerable Stax Records sessions backing everyone from Otis Redding to Sam & Dave, and the MG's hit the charts a few times themselves, beginning with the timeless "Green Onions" instrumental in 1962. 

But things began going south for Stax in the early '70s, and Jones could see the writing on the wall, leaving the label well before it filed for bankruptcy in 1975 and signing with A&M Records in 1971 and consequently releasing a series of albums with his then-wife Priscilla Coolidge. He signed with Epic Records in 1974, issued Evergreen, and then returned to A&M Records. Evergreen isn't a soul record, at least not the way the MG's did it, and Jones wore several hats at the sessions, playing some guitar and bass on it in addition to organ and keyboards, handled most of the vocals, and also wrote, arranged, and produced all the tracks (with the exception of a cover of Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me"). 

It's really a laid-back roots album, and one doesn't get any of Jones' famous organ playing until the fourth cut, an instrumental called "Flamingo," and it's there on the title track, "Evergreen," as well, but most of the album is a light-breezed mix of folk melodies, subtle calypso, and reggae rhythms, ragtime, and what is know these days as soul-jazz, and it's all very pleasing, but far from the greasy soul-funk sound of the MG's. Wounded Bird Records reissued Evergreen in 2013, adding in six bonus tracks, which included the single version of "Evergreen" and interesting cover versions of "Take Me to the River" and "Whiter Shade of Pale," none of which change the overall mood and feel of the original album.

Booker T. Jones was one of the architects of the Memphis soul sound of the 1960s as the leader of Booker T. & the MG's, who scored a number of hits on their own as well as serving as the Stax Records house band. But Jones' accomplishments don't stop there, and as a producer, songwriter, arranger, and instrumentalist, he's worked with a remarkable variety of artists, from Willie Nelson to John Lee Hooker, from Soul Asylum to the Roots.

Booker T. Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee on November 12, 1944. Jones developed an keen interest in music as a boy; while working a paper route, he used to pass by the house of jazz pianist Phineas Newborn, and would often stop and listen to him practice as he folded newspapers. By the time Jones was in high school, he helped to direct the school band and was proficient on saxophone, trombone, oboe, and keyboards; he also played organ during services at his church, and would occasionally sneak out and sit in with R&B combos at local nightclubs. 

In 1960, Jones, a frequent customer at Memphis' Satellite Record Shop, was recruited to play sax on a Rufus and Carla Thomas recording session when the proprietors of the store, Estelle Axton and Jim Stewart, decided to start their own record label. The label soon evolved into Stax Records, and Jones, along with guitarist Steve Cropper (who was managing the record store when he met Jones), bassist Lewis Steinberg (later replaced by Donald "Duck" Dunn), and drummer Al Jackson Jr., would form the MG's, who would back up Stax artists Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Albert King, and many others, as well as releasing a steady stream of instrumental recordings on their own, including the smash hit "Green Onions." Jones' productivity in the early to mid-'60s is all the more remarkable as he was also a full-time student at Indiana University, where he studied composition and music theory while doing shows and recording sessions during weekends and vacations.

HomeBooker T. & the MG's enjoyed considerable success in their heyday -- cutting hits, backing Stax's leading artists, touring Europe and the U.K. with the Stax/Volt Revue, and accompanying Otis Redding for his legendary set at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival -- but between internal disputes at Stax (mostly regarding the spoils of their successful distribution deal with Atlantic Records) and the increasingly busy schedules of the various members, the group was on the verge of breaking up, and in 1970, Jones relocated to Los Angeles. 

He had already been branching out, appearing on Delaney & Bonnie's 1969 album Home and Mitch Ryder's ambitious The Detroit-Memphis Experiment, and after 1971's Melting Pot, the MG's quietly broke up. Jones stayed busy with session work, playing on albums by Bob Dylan, Steven Stills, Kris Kristofferson, and Rita Coolidge, and in 1971 he released Booker T. & Priscilla, the first of two albums he would record with his then-wife, Priscilla Coolidge-Jones (the sister of Rita Coolidge). 

The same year, Jones produced Just as I Am, the outstanding debut album by Bill Withers, which featured the hits "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Grandma's Hands." In 1975, Jones and the MG's were working on a reunion album when Al Jackson, Jr. was murdered; the group continued to record with drummer Willie Hall, but they parted ways again in 1977. In 1978, Jones released his first solo album, Try and Love Again, and enjoyed one of his biggest successes as a producer with Willie Nelson's Stardust, a collection of pop standards that established Nelson as one of country's biggest crossover acts.

01. Jamaica Song  02:25
02. Mama Stewart  02:52
03. Tennessee Voodoo  04:46
04. Flamingo  03:38
05. Song For Casey  04:52
06. Evergreen  06:30
07. Country Days  04:35
08. Why Me  03:35
09. Front Street Rag  02:14
10  Lie To Me  06:00