Better than the house red

I have always found the term “house band” vaguely disparaging, as if a recording studio has a house band in the same way an Italian bistro offers the “house red”: unlabelled and, at best, unremarkable. Sometimes, undrinkable. There may well be the odd house band out there that is like that – a bunch of jaded session musicians recording the sound track for a breakfast cereal commercial.

But here on Planet Vinyl we jump to the defence of such musicians – hey, they are making a living out of their art, and that is not to be scorned.  And many a house band is actually a fantastic ensemble, skilled and passionate players who in a more-just world would be household names.

Up_Tight!_(1968)_poster

Time is Tight was the theme to the 1969 movie Up Tight, a  drama about black militancy. Image: Wikimedia Foundation

There are some house bands which do score hits and become famous in their own right. The Shadows was one; The Band another.

In this illustrious company belongs Booker T and the M.G.’s, the “house band” for Stax studios in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1960s. “M.G.” just stood for “Memphis Group”, but there was nothing “no-name” about them They played behind the cream of soul singers, including Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Albert King and Carla Thomas.

And they had hits of their own, groovy, catchy instrumental numbers. This is one of their later releases, Time is Tight, part of a soundtrack they contributed to the 1969 feature film Up Tight. It has all the hallmarks of the MG’s at their finest: seamless group playing and an irresistible groove.

Just listen!

  • Artist: Booker T and the MG’s
  • Track: Time is Tight
  • Format: 7”, 45rpm, vinyl, stereo
  • Label: Stax
  • Made in: Australia
  • Catalog: KK-2888
  • Year: 1969