It’s been a couple weeks since I wrote about music. This time I’m setting the way-back machine for 1970, though this story starts in September 1969, when four Liverpudlians released Abbey Road.
Across the pond, Booker T. Jones was blown away by the new album. So much so in fact, that a scant four months later, in January, 1970, Booker T & the MGs, released McLemore Avenue, an album consisting of reimagined funk versions of Abbey Road tracks, probably the first “tribute” album ever made.
Booker T & the MGs formed in 1962. The group consisted of four studio musicians. They were the house band for the Memphis-based, Stax record label. Some of the artists they backed up include Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, and the Staple Singers.
Booker T & the MGs formation was a cultural milestone. The band consisted of two white members and two black members. An integrated, successful soul band in 1962 was unheard of, especially hailing from the deep south.
From 1962 to 1971, the band released eleven studio albums, had a couple top ten hits, “Green Onions” and “Time Is Tight” but McLemore Avenue stands alone in their discography.
Like Abbey Road, McLemore Avenue was named for the street where the Stax recording studio in which it was created was located. The cover, an obvious homage to Abbey Road.
Not all the material from Abbey Road was covered on the album. I’m guessing the band probably struggled finding ways of funking up “Octopus’s Garden” and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”.
Rather than record song-for-song covers, the band created three medleys of multiple songs with “Something” the exception.
Here’s the original track list:
- Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End/Here Comes The Sun/Come Together
- Because/You Never Give Me Your Money
- Sun King/Mean Mr. Mustard/Polythene Pam/She Came In Through The Bathroom Window/I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
The reason I’m writing about this album is because I think it has been overlooked and as a result not enough people have had the pleasure of listening to it. The only single released from the album, “Something” peaked at 76 on the Billboard charts.
I know there will be those who won’t love it. Booker T. Jones plays keyboards, primarily a Hammond B-3 organ. It isn’t for everyone, but I love it.
Finally, a bit of trivia, and some conjecture.
Fact: The Beatles released Let It Be after Abbey Road due to legal issues. Abbey Road was the final album the band recorded together.
Unverified Fact: The last line the Fab Four recorded as a band was the final line of the aptly-titled “The End”.
If so, then the last sentence the Beatles ever recorded together was “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”.
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P.S. You can hear the album on YouTube, but consider buying it at Amazon or iTunes. Support the arts! Here’s the YouTube link.
(Note: The album was re-mastered and re-released in 2011 with six additional Beatles songs, none intended for McLemore Avenue.)
P.P.S. If you research the stuff about the Beatles last sentence recorded together and I ‘m wrong, please don’t tell me. I suspect we all have myths we’d rather not have disproven.