Booker T. Jones - organ, vocals; unknown - guitar; unknown - bass; unknown - drums
As the originators of the Memphis soul sound and the house band on many Stax/Volt hits, Booker T & the MGs became one of the most respected and imitated bands of the mid- 1960s. Booker T. Jones and the group forged a soulful sound and backed many of the greatest soul and rhythm & blues musicians of the era, including Otis Redding, Wilson Picket, Sam & Dave, Albert King and many others.
This New Year's Eve Winterland performance, when Booker T opened for Sons Of Champlin and Tower of Power, captures the basic sound perfected during his time fronting the MGs, but with a more relaxed approach. The musicians accompanying him here are unidentified, but provide solid enhancement, if not up to the level of the MGs. Regardless, this performance still displays the timeless quality that Booker T & the MGs music always possessed, but moving in the direction of his later solo work.
Only the last half hour of his set was captured, but it is packed with some of Booker T's most memorable music. They kick it off with Albert King's "Born Under A Bad Sign," a song that Booker T had played on when it was originally recorded, and here he handles the lead vocal. On the classic instrumental side of things, the hits performed here include classic takes on "Hip Hug-Her" and "Soul Limbo." He additionally delivers a great version of Otis Redding's classic "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay," another session that Booker T originally contributed to. This set also contains "Hang 'Em High," a song that will be immediately recognizable as the classic spaghetti-Western theme that it is. The set closes with an extended take on "Time Is Tight," another of Booker T's many career defining songs.
The group has obviously studied the economical style that the MGs excelled at, providing expressive enhancement to Booker T's groove-heavy Memphis soul. In all of these performances, it is Booker T's massive organ sound that dominates. Much like his earlier work, he never relies on flash or gimmicks, but displays a seasoned sense of style that is the epitome of taste and technique.