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McLemore Avenue, Booker T. & the MG's
You've probably heard of the cover song - some great, some terrible. But you probably are less familiar with the 'cover-album' - an album that covers another album. I've heard Gov't Mule do Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy and Dark Side of the Moon seems to have been a favourite with Phish, The Flaming lips and The Squirrels covering the entire album. Cover albums are pretty rare, but Abbey Road seems to be a bit of a target, apart from McLemore Avenue, George Benson covered the whole of Abbey Road one month after the original's release with 'Another Side of Abbey Road'.
Booker T and the MG's are probably best known for their catchy blues instrumental 'Green Onions'. As an instrumental act they covered many different artists and were the backing band for Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and Bill Withers. They exemplified the classic 'Stax' sound.
Only occasionally does the album stray into 'muzak' territory, the sort of stuff you might hear in a lift, or a at the dentist. But just when it starts to go a bit pear shapes, the next song comes along and changes the way you hear the songs.
Of course though being such a well known album and full of songs that everyone knows, Booker T and his boys had to change things around slightly. I really liked the way the songs blend into each other, created medleys from the tracks that were not originally meant to be medleys. In fact, the only song that isn't is the Harrison classic 'Something'.
The one instrument that stands out is Booker T's organ which wheezes throughout, but there is also some excellent back up from Steve Cropper's guitar, Donald 'Duck' Dunn's bass and Al Jackson Jr's drums. Cropper and Duck later on became part of the Blues Brother's backing band. It's a good sounding album, it's just a shame it isn't a little bit more soulful and too close to the original to be wildly different. The fact that it's an instrumental album is a bit different, but that only brings to the fore the stripped down arrangements.
McLemore Avenue is a different album, one which you might have on in the background as opposed to actually sitting down and analysing. It still sounds pretty laid back, but more formulaic than I was hoping. I wanted a bit more rock than wheezing Hammond organ to be honest and some of the life is sucked out of a classic album.
For Beatles enthusiasts and hunters of obscure oddities.
1. Medley: "Golden Slumbers", "Carry That Weight", "The End", "Here Comes The Sun", "Come Together" - 15:48
2. "Something" - 4:09
3. Medley: "Because", "You Never Give Me Your Money" - 7:26
4. Medley: "Sun King", "Mean Mr. Mustard", "Polythene Pam", "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window", "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" - 10:40
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Golden Slumbers
2 Here Comes The Sun
3 Come Together
5 Mean Mr Mustard
6 She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
7 Carry That Weight
10 You Never Give Me Your Money
11 Polythene Pam
12 Sun King
13 I Want You