Booker T & the MGs – Green Onions (“The ’59”) #024

“The ’59” 2018 #024: 180124

Booker T & the MGs – Green Onions (1962)

Green Onions was the debut album from Booker T. & the M.G.s, released on Stax Records in October 1962. It reached number 33 on the pop album chart in the month of its release. The title single had been a hit worldwide and has since been covered by dozens of artists, including the Blues Brothers and Roy Buchanan (both with Steve Cropper on guitars), as well as The Ventures, Al Kooper, The Shadows, Mongo Santamaría and Count Basie.

Three previous Stax LPs – two by the Mar-Keys, one by Carla Thomas – had been issued on Atlantic Records. Green Onions was the first album released on the Stax label. It was also Stax’s first charting album. It features only instrumental songs and features Steve Cropper playing a Fender Telecaster.

The album was included in Robert Dimery’s 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.


The Staple Singers – Swing Low (“The ’59”) #021

“The ’59” 2018 #021: 180121

The Staple Singers – Swing Low (1961)

“Swing Low” was the second album by The Staple Singers, released on VeeJay Records in 1961.

The Staple Singers were an American gospel, soul and R&B singing group. Roebuck “Pops” Staples (1914–2000), the patriarch of the family, formed the group with his children Cleotha (1934–2013), Pervis (b. 1935), and Mavis (b. 1939). Yvonne (b. 1936) replaced her brother when he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and again in 1970. They are best known for their 1970s hits “Respect Yourself”, “I’ll Take You There”, “If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me)”, and “Let’s Do It Again”, which with one exception (“I’ll Take You There”) peaked on the Hot 100 within a week from Christmas Day. While the family name is Staples, the group used “Staple” commercially.

Roebuck Staples moved from Mississippi to Chicago after his marriage, and worked in steel mills and meat packing plants while his family of four children grew up. The family began appearing in Chicago-area churches in 1948, their first public singing appearance being at the Mount Zion Church, Chicago, where Roebuck’s brother, the Rev. Chester Staples, was pastor.

They signed their first professional contract in 1952. During their early career, they recorded in an acoustic gospel-folk style with various labels: United Records, Vee-Jay Records (their “Uncloudy Day” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” were best sellers), Checker Records, Riverside Records, and then Epic Records in 1965. “Uncloudy Day” was an early influence on Bob Dylan, who said of it in 2015…

It was the most mysterious thing I’d ever heard… I’d think about them even at my school desk…Mavis looked to be about the same age as me in her picture (on the cover of “Uncloudy Day”)…Her singing just knocked me out…And Mavis was a great singer—deep and mysterious. And even at the young age, I felt that life itself was a mystery.

Seal (Epic #291)

The Epic 2017 Project #291: 171018

Seal (1991)

Seal’s self-titled debut was released in 1991 and features the singles “Crazy”, “Future Love Paradise”, “The Beginning”, “Killer” and “Violet”. The album debuted at No.1 in the UK and went on to win Best British Album at the 1992 Brit Awards.

There are two versions of the album, with minor and major differences in three songs. The shorter version of “Wild” is more rock-based and heavy than the original. The shorter version of “Violet” contains no dialogue within the singing. Track lengths of both versions are given for each song affected. “Killer” is a re-recorded version of the UK number one single by Adamski, which also features Seal on vocals.

Many of the songs (including various ZTT mixes) were featured in the Greg Stump 1991 film Groove Requiem in the Key of Ski. Later Seal tracks appeared in other Stump films as well. The track “Killer” was also featured on the American crime series Homicide: Life on the Street and was included on the 2-disc soundtrack album.

The song “Crazy” was covered by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes on their album Take a Break, by Mushroomhead on their album XIII, by Talisman on their 1995 album Life, by Alanis Morissette on her 2005 compilation album Alanis Morissette: The Collection, and by German power metal band Iron Savior.

Mary Mary – Thankful (Epic 2017 #169)

The Epic 2017 Project #169: 170618

Mary Mary – Thankful (1999)

Thankful was Mary Mary’s debut studio album, released on May 2, 2000 through Columbia Records. It’s all about contemporary gospel, R&B, hip hop and soul and as a part of that, produced the smash crossover hit “Shackles (Praise You)”, which reached the top-ten in seven countries. This was closely followed by the single “I Sings”, which was also a significant hit—although it did not match the success of its predecessor.

The album established Mary Mary as one of the leading artists in contemporary Christian music, and won the duo a Grammy Award in 2001. It peaked at number one on the US Gospel Albums, number twenty-two on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and number fifty-nine on the US Billboard 200. On release, AllMusic gave it a grade of four and a half out of five stars and Cross Rhythms – the main Christian music publisher – a top 10/10.

En Vogue – Funky Divas (Epic 2017 #066)

The Epic 2017 Project #066: 170307

En Vogue – Funky Divas (1992)

En Vogue’s second studio album was one of the best selling of 1992 peaking at over five million by the year end.

The lead single, “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It),” (featured here) became an instant hit, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart. The accompanying video for “My Lovin'” won two MTV Video Music Awards. The song samples the funk guitar line of James Brown’s 1973 song “The Payback” from the album of the same name.

Average White Band – Person to Person (Epic 2017 #014)

The Epic 2017 Project #014: 170114

Average White Band – Person to Person (1977)


I brought this double gatefold live album on vinyl for my wife’s 21st birthday back in 1980.

The Average White Band came from Dundee, Scotland. Formed in 1972, they had worldwide success as a funk and R&B band with a string of hits between 1974 and 1980. The biggest and most successful of these was the instrumental ‘Pick up the Pieces’ (1974) which now has the accolade of being the 15th most sampled tune in history. The band split in 1983 only to reform six years later. They still tour now, albeit with a vastly different line-up; Alan Gorrie (guitar) is the only original member.

The ‘Person to Person’ live album was recorded at the Tower Theatre and The Spectrum, Philadelphia, The Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh and The Colosseum, Cleveland.