Part of the latest batch of Stax Remasters is “McLemore Avenue,” the Booker T and The MGs album inspired by The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” with the cover showing thegroup walking across the Memphis location in a manner echoing The Beatles on the cover of “Abbey Road.” Ashley Kahn, in the accompanying booklet, observes how the album was conceived by Jones after hearing the Beatles recording. He was struck by the recording and its unbridled musicality, especially the “unusual musical snippets”that dominated side B of the album.
“McLemore Avenue” was the first time that the four had not recorded together as guitarist Steve Cropper was involved in another project, so after Jones, Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn and Al Jackson Jr recorded the basic tracks, Cropper joined Jones at Wally Heider Studios in Hollywood to overdub his parts and then to Memphis where he mixed the recording with John Fry at Ardent Studios.
The album comprised of three medleys based primarily on the melodic snippets but also incorporating one of the songs from side A so the album opens with various snippets such as “Golden Slumbers” and “Carry the Weight,” along with “Here Comes The Sun.” and concludes with a medley including snippets “Hello Mr.Mustard” and “Polythene Pam” along with “She Came In The Bathroom Window. On the original album, there was a self-contained rendition of “Something” that was also issued as a single. Its fascinating to listen to them shift tempo and mood as they work through the medleys and also appreciate how spare, yet full their playing was. Cropper’s stinging guitar runs set against the sometimes lush organ of Jones.
This reissue is augmented by the reissue of six Beatle covers that they had recorded prior to McLemore Avenue, including interpretations of “Day Tripper,” “Michelle” and “Lady Madonna.” Listening to these one is struck how restrained the interpretations are and how melodic they were. An interesting chapter in the group’s history.
My review copy provided by publicist for the record company.