Mono Mondays: Booker T. & The M.G.s, Green Onions
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that there was once a time when instrumental artists could find significant chart success on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s not as though it’s completely unheard of nowadays, but if you look back at the number of instrumentals that hit the charts during the early days of rock ‘n’ roll and follow that number through to present day…well, we’d hate to use the word “plummet” to describe how quickly it drops off, but it really is a spot-on description. (Then again, given that the majority of those instrumentals were by Kenny G, maybe it’s for the best.)
Thankfully, this week’s Mono Monday release is a reminder of the glory days of rock ‘n’ roll and R&B instrumentals, when bands could get their groove on without having to worry about dealing with the ego of a frontman…unless you consider Booker T. Jones to be the frontman of The M.G.s, since his first name and initial come in front of theirs. When you listen to Green Onions, though, Booker T.’s organ playing may be prominent, it’s far from the only memorable instrumental performance going on in the grooves of the album: you’ve got also got Steve Cropper’s guitar, Al Jackson, Jr.’s drums, and Lewie Steinberg’s upright bass, too. In short, this is just all-around great music…and there’s not a single word to be found anywhere.
Clearly, it’s the album’s title track that’s made the most impact over the years – it’s been covered by everyone from the Blues Brothers to Roy Buchanan – but its semi-sequel, “Mo’ Onions,” was a minor hit single as well. Then you’ve also got takes on “I Got a Woman,” “Twist and Shout,” and “Stranger on the Shore,” along with versions of Doc Pomus’s “Lonely Avenue,” Smokey Robinson’s “One Who Really Loves You,” and…well, anyway, there’s a reason why AllMusic.com gave it four and a half out of five stars, and now you can revisit its greatness in glorious mono.