Booker T & the MGs Songs Ranked

Booker T. & the M.G.’s are an American instrumental R&B/funk band that was influential in shaping the sound of Southern soul and Memphis soul. The original members of the group were Booker T. Jones (organ, piano), Steve Cropper (guitar), Lewie Steinberg (bass), and Al Jackson Jr. (drums). In the 1960s, as members of the house band of Stax Records, they played on hundreds of recordings by artists including Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, and Albert King. They also released instrumental records under their own name, including the 1962 hit single “Green Onions”. As originators of the unique Stax sound, the group was one of the most prolific, respected, and imitated of its era. By the mid-1960s, bands on both sides of the Atlantic were trying to sound like Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Here are all of Booker T & the MGs songs ranked.

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10. Mo’ Onions ((Green Onions, 1962)

“The title says it all, “Mo’ Onions” is pretty much a sequel piece to the classic “Green Onions”. Sounds a little different, and I mean a little different, but the same track as “Green Onions” is pretty much played. When played after “Green Onions” is isn’t all that bad. On its own however it just doesn’t compare.”

9. Groovin’ (Hip Hug-Her, 1967)

“Its intro riff vaguely reminiscent of “Never My Love”‘s, “Groovin'” somehow gives me warm fuzzies on par with the best sunshine pop. It’s leagues better than The Association’s smash disappointment, too; simple piano and drums keep my focus on Jones’ lovable melody while preventing any lapses into treacliness, and Cropper’s guitar spot tickles my ears like birdsong.”

8. Hang ‘Em High (Soul Limbo, 1968)

“Of course, taking risks can have its own downsides, as is seen with “Hang ‘Em High.” The song is hard to take seriously with its western theme and goofy Hammond organ (there’s nothing inherently wrong with an organ, but “96 Tears” or “Light My Fire” this is not).”

7. Summertime (And Now!, 1966)

“A very archetypal song for the group at this time, with Jones’ sing-song melody pulling the opposite way of Dunn’s octave drops. This hardly immobilizes the four, though, as Cropper and Jackson mediate the tension with their usual blend of curt rhythms and grooving.”

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6. Behave Yourself (Green Onions, 1962)

“This is a strong R&B groove, built on a simple but effective organ riff, with a great bassline, pounding drums and even some nice guitar lines thrown in there. Truly a cool track that holds up even to this day”

5. Silver Bells (In the Christmas Spirit, 1966)

“One of the most gloriously sleazy yet danceable soul singles ever. Throw it on at your next party and watch the floor fill up.”

4. Melting Pot (Melting Pot, 1971)

“Trimming “Melting Pot” down to half its length might rob you of the delightful rising and falling action, but here, a highlight reel is still mighty enjoyable. This is the four at their most cooperative in years, as Jones shares the spotlight with Cropper while Jackson and Dunn romp freely. I’m particularly tickled to hear Steve’s rhythms turn so choppy; his outro turn is some tense, terse sort of cutlery.”

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3. Hip Hug-Her (Hip Hug-Her, 1967)

“Steve puts down the sort of lick that would fire up any number of Sam and Dave or Wilson Pickett songs you care to think of, while Booker T adds playful organ on top as Al and Duck do what they do best in the background. Later on Booker parps up the Hammond while Steve lets his guitar squeal a bit.”

2. Time is Tight (Uptight, 1969)

“Just another excellent Booker T. & The MGs instrumental. Excellent organ and bass, and the part where the music just builds and gets louder is something to behold, before it all gets softer. Cropper provides a great guitar riff as well.”

1. Green Onions (Green Onions, 1962)

““Green Onions” became one of the most successful instrumental singles of its time, due to Booker T. Jones’ infectious Hammond B3 organ riff, and the group’s largely-improvised solos. Since the song’s release in 1962, “Green Onions” has soundtracked a number of iconic film and television scenes, but its familiarity has often overshadowed just how stellar a piece of music it is.”