April 01, 2003
Rhythm & Blues, Memphis Soul, Soul, Instrumental Rock, AM Pop

Album Review

Although all of these 25 cover versions were recorded in the '60s, none of them were released at the time. Unfortunately, info as to the exact dates of the individual tracks has been lost, though Stax scholar Rob Bowman's liner notes figure that most of them were cut between 1965-1968, with some possibly dating from 1962-1964. Putting all of them onto a single disc decades later might seem like a vault-cleaning exercise of secondary material. But this turns out to be a surprisingly good and vibrant collection of instrumental soul interpretations of rock, soul, and pop hits of the '60s, even if it's not up to the level of Booker T. & the MG's more famous hits and original numbers. Even though these were often laid down quickly before or after sessions on which the band was backing other artists, most of these don't sound like throwaways. They're characteristically disciplined and imaginative, and the scope is remarkably wide, taking in Beatles songs, blues ("Wang Dang Doodle" and "Baby Scratch My Back"), Motown, straight pop ("Downtown"), and even some songs on which Booker T. & the MG's actually played on the original recordings (Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" and "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby," and Eddie Floyd's "On a Saturday Night"). Not all of the reworkings are top-notch; the Beatles' "You Can't Do That" is taken at a jazzy shuffle that doesn't suit the tune. But most of them are very good, and not straight copies of the original arrangements, with the band effectively cooking up different tempos and simmering guitar/organ interplay.
Richie Unterberger, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Baby, Scratch My Back
  2. Harlem Shuffle
  3. Hi-Heel Sneakers
  4. Downtown
  5. I Was Made to Love Her
  6. Georgia on My Mind
  7. Wade in the Water
  8. Fannie Mae
  9. Day Tripper
  10. You Left the Water Running
  11. Every Beat of My Heart
  12. Ain't That Peculiar
  13. You Can't Do That
  14. Wang Dang Doodle
  15. On a Saturday Night
  16. The Letter
  17. Oo Wee Baby, I Love You
  18. Spoonful
  19. I Hear a Symphony
  20. You're So Fine
  21. Raunchy
  22. You Are My Sunshine
  23. Soul Man
  24. Gimme Some Lovin'
  25. When Something Is Wrong with My Baby
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