Booker T. Jones - The Road from Memphis (2011)

Booker T. Jones

Booker T The Road from Memphis.jpg

Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Legendary organist Booker T. Jones returned to work after a two-year break from 2009’s Potato Hole. That album, released on the Anti- label, was a definite return to honor, showcasing some of the soul man grit heard on Jones’ Stax output as the frontman for Booker T & the MGs. On his latest adventure, The Road from Memphis, Jones takes some of the atmospheric Southern soul of Green Onions and molds it into Potato Hole’s predominant foundation – mostly with the usage of song covers and guest star power (i.e., Sharon Jones, Lou Reed, Yim Yames, Dennis Coffey). The affair is an improvement over the former set, since it re-identifies the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer with the core of his Memphis roots, even putting him in the smart company of Daptone Records engineer Gabriel Roth, ?uestlove and his talented eight-member army – The Roots.

Legendary organist Booker T. Jones returned to work after a two-year break from 2009’s Potato Hole. That album, released on the Anti- label, was a definite return to honor, showcasing some of the soul man grit heard on Jones’ Stax output as the frontman for Booker T & the MGs. On his latest adventure, The Road from Memphis, Jones takes some of the atmospheric Southern soul of Green Onions and molds it into Potato Hole’s predominant foundation – mostly with the usage of song covers and guest star power (i.e., Sharon Jones, Lou Reed, Yim Yames, Dennis Coffey). The affair is an improvement over the former set, since it re-identifies the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer with the core of his Memphis roots, even putting him in the smart company of Daptone Records engineer Gabriel Roth, ?uestlove and his talented eight-member army – The Roots. This is the closest Jones has ever gotten to duplicating The MG’s rawness.

A great deal of attention is sure to envelop Jones’ courageous Gnarls Barkley cover of “Crazy” and Lauryn Hill’s “Everything Is Everything,” where the band hypes up their rendition using a beefy hip-hop funk. But, the album’s prominent standouts are heard when The National’s Yim Yames surprises all with his soulful  solo on the smooth R&B of “Progress,” the U2-esque guitar arpeggios sweetly seduces the verses of “The Hive” and the zesty Roots pump hard sweat into the album opener “Walking Papers.”  Jones writes most of the album content, proving he’s still got another “Melting Pot” in his system. The album even puts the organ master in the lead vocalist position on the open book narrative of the Al Green-inspired “Down in Memphis.”  In the end, The Road from Memphis is a raw, groove-oriented dance record with all the makings of a modern-day Stax masterpiece.

Vocals: 3.5 stars
Lyrics: 2.0 stars
Music: 4.0 stars
Production: 4.0 stars

SoulTracks Call: Recommended

By  J. Matthew Cobb

 
Featured Album - Leon Ware - "Rainbow Deux"
Featured Album - David Porter - The Classics
Album of the Month - Cool Million - "Stronger"
Song of the Month - Ascendant - "Gotta Get Up"

Leave a comment!