(Stax STS2006, January 1969)
New to the bins at Lost & Found Records, today’s featured “InStore” is the soundtrack to the film Uptight.
Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, Booker T. & the M.G.s initially came together to provide backing music for recording artists on the Stax label. They were propelled to the top of the charts in their own right with an organ riff they came up with between sessions one day. That riff became “Green Onions” (1962).
In 1968 Booker T. Jones was asked to score the soundtrack to Jules Dassin’s film Uptight. Intended as an updated version of John Ford’s film The Informer (1935), the modern setting became Cleveland, Ohio, and the back story was the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The fictional narrative reflects the story of a charismatic young black man caught up in the turbulent and revolutionary environment of the time.
The soundtrack opens with a contemplative and rare Booker T. vocal performance on “Johnny, I Love You,” flows to the urgency of “Run Tank Run,” and closes with what became the M.G.s second biggest hit, “Time is Tight.”
Uptight does contain the always exemplary musicianship that the MG’s brought to their records, and it predates both the Superfly and Shaft soundtracks by three years.
—Steve Kurutz, AllMusic
The album’s highlights include “Time Is Tight,” the single version of which became a US Top 10 hit (the second biggest of their career) and a signature song for the band. The version of “Time Is Tight” included on the Up Tight soundtrack album is an alternate recording, which differs from the single version in several respects: it is in stereo, it is played at a faster tempo, it runs almost two minutes longer (4’55”), and it includes both an extended introduction and an instrumental “breakdown” (beginning around 3’30”), neither of which are in the single version.
Listen to the hit “Time is Tight” on Spotify. This LP is new to Lost & Found and won’t be here long. Come ‘n get it before it’s gone.