A little more than sixty years ago, Booker T. and The MG's tasty serving of "Green Onions" became one of the summer's biggest dishes. The largely improvised 12-bar blues entered the Billboard Hot 100 on August 11, 1962 and peaked at No. 3 the week ending September 29. It also made it all the way to the top of the R&B Singles Chart, peaking there on four non-consecutive weeks. On February 24, Rhino will reissue Booker T. and The MG's Green Onions album on both CD and translucent "green onion" vinyl for its 60th anniversary.
"Green Onions" was created by the classic line-up of organist Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, drummer Al Jackson Jr., and bassist Lewis Steinberg. Originally the B-side of the May 1962 Volt single "Behave Yourself," the catchy, organ-driven blues was quickly flipped, and reissued as an A-side on the Atlantic-distributed Stax label. The Green Onions album followed that October as the debut long-player from Booker T. & The MG's (as well as the first LP released on Stax), and included "Green Onions" as well as "Behave Yourself." Cover versions followed by everyone from Henry Mancini to The Ventures, and it remains one of the most beloved songs to come out of the Stax hitmaking factory as well as one of the most popular and familiar instrumentals of all time.
The Green Onions album was filled with tight playing from the Stax house band on a variety of familiar songs and originals, including the follow-up, "Mo' Onions." (Belatedly released as a single in 1964, "Mo' Onions" also made the Hot 100 and R&B Singles charts.) The band brought their funky grooves to the likes of Ben Tucker's "Comin' Home Baby" (introduced by the Dave Bailey Quintet and later associated with Mel Tormé in a version featuring lyrics by Bob Dorough), Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman," and Bert Berns and Phil Medley's "Twist and Shout."
Rhino's upcoming reissue has been newly remastered and features new liner notes by David Ritz based on interviews with surviving band members Booker T. Jones and Steve Cropper. Note that the two bonus tracks added for the 50th anniversary release (live performances of "Green Onions" and "I Can't Sit Down" from 1965) have been dropped from this edition.
The remastered Green Onions hits stores on February 24, 2023. The remastered "Mo' Onions" is currently streaming at YouTube and elsewhere! Look for the reissue at the links below.
Booker T. & The MGs, Green Onions: 60th Anniversary Edition (Stax LP 701, 1962 - reissued Stax/Rhino, 2023)
- Green Onions
- I Got a Woman
- Mo' Onions
- Twist and Shout
- Behave Yourself
- Stranger on the Shore
- Lonely Avenue
- The One Who Really Loves You
- I Can't Sit Down
- A Woman, A Lover, A Friend
- Comin' Home Baby