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Booker T. & The MG's - Hip Hug-Her (1967)

Many people say that Hip Hug-Her is the best album ever released by Booker T. & the MGs. While that's up for debate, this certainly is one of the legendary quartet's greatest achievements. Donald "Duck" Dunn replaced original bassist Lewie Steinberg, and this was the second album with Dunn as a permanent member. This is the album where the four musicians merged into the most formidable instrumental unit the world has ever known.

The title cut is just pure prime time Booker T. & the MGs. Booker T. Jones is playing with a newly found confidence, and this was the first single they released with Jones playing the Hammond B-3 organ. The B-3 itself could be partly responsible for Jones's swinging playing style, and he would use this type of organ on almost every track the group would eventually record. Tight as can be from start to finish is drummer Al Jackson, Jr., with that perfect snare sound and as usual, this album is full of great moments from him. No wonder, considering he started playing in his father's famed Jazz/Swing band when he was five years old, his work on the jazzy "Pigmy" and "Booker's Notion" (which obviously features terrific work, both on piano and organ, by Jones) is superior to any drummer I've ever heard in the Jazz world.

The interplay between this band is rivaled by none, particularly the backbone of Dunn, Jackson, and Soul guitarist numero uno Steve Cropper. The hip shaking and perfectly titled "Soul Sanction" and especially the great "Double or Nothing" (which though used as an encore to this day at their concerts, will not be found on any MGs compilations) display their tight, yet seemingly effortless, playing that was the envy of groups such as The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Z.Z. (amazon)

Booker T. Jones - Organ, Piano, Keyboards, Bass, Guitar
Steve Cropper - Guitar, Percussion, Piano
Donald "Duck" Dunn - Bass
Al Jackson, Jr. - Drums

The title track is the band at its best: attention-grabbing guitar hook, soothing organ melody, razor-sharp interlocking-groove performance. Their cover of the Young Rascals' "Groovin'" - a Jones organ showpiece - was also a hit single. There are relatively few covers, and they're fun (the Temptations' "Get Ready," Bobby Hebb's "Sunny"). And for once, the minor album tracks kick butt: "Double Or Nothing" is a full-throttle R&B workout; "Slim Jenkin's Joint" is sly and bluesy; "Booker's Notion" is an amusing stride piano exercise. --David Bertrand Wilson, WARR.org

Still riding high years after the success of "Green Onions," Hip Hug-Her is another 11-song solid session of Southern soul delivered by one of the best bands in the business. In an attempt to appeal to the up-and-coming mod movement, the cover features an alluring model flanked by fashionable faceless people. But not to judge the album by its cover, Hip Hug-Her finds the group diving deeper into soulful territories, no doubt aided by the addition of bassist Duck Dunn to the fold. The title track is clearly one of the stronger cuts on the album, but other tunes such as the midtempo Motown anthem "Get Ready" and the group's interpretation of "Groovin'" make this one of the strongest full-lengths in the Booker T. & the MG's catalog. ~ Rob Theakston, All Music Guide

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