As a regular viewer / listener to the BBC Proms concerts I took the opportunity recently to watch the recorded concert of the “Tribute to STAX Records” put on by Jools Holland and his big band. It was interesting to read in the musical press that many classical music enthusiasts (read snobs) were up in arms that an evening at the Royal Albert Hall was being devoted to “pop music.”
I can remember back in the 1960s discovering the world of STAX soul music through artists like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Carla Thomas, William Bell, Eddie Floyd and the “house band” of Booker T and the MGs.
Jools and his band provided backing to those original artists still around and flown in for the concert, namely Sam Moore, William Bell, Eddie Floyd and the two remaining members of the house band, Booker T Jones and Steve Cropper
These original artists were joined by Tom Jones, James Morrison (?), Beverley Knight and Ruby Turner in revisiting the stax catalogue. There were also a couple of “rappers” but it would be kinder not to mention them as they were so awful…………and had no right to be on stage for such a musical event.
Personally, I could have done without the British artists and had more opportunity to listen to the original artists, all of whom could still belt out a song with real feeling.
The two highlights of the evening for me were a performance of Green Onions by Booker T and Steve Cropper (my friend Mike saw Steve Cropper at the Ramsbottom Blues Festival three years ago, I kid you not) and then most unexpectedly a rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Blues for New Orleans” (from his New Orleans Suite) by Booker T accompanied by the big band.
“Green Onions” is probably the best known piece by Booker T and the MGs but for me “Time is Tight” has always been the standout track by the group. Above is a recording of the song taken from a live concert (my mate Mike says it is too doodly at the start, but what does a man with eight guitars know?) and features the original line up of Booker T, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn and Al Jackson………………and just listen to that bass line!