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R&B - Released May 3, 2011 | Anti - Epitaph

Distinctions Le top 6 JAZZ NEWS
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R&B - Released May 3, 2011 | Anti - Epitaph

Distinctions Le top 6 JAZZ NEWS
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Booker T. Jones could have gone in any direction after 2009's Grammy-winning Potato Hole. He's traveled the musical map with his ubiquitous MG's as recent reissues -- 1977's disco-centric Universal Language and the 1970 classic McLemore Avenue, a collection of Beatles covers -- attest. On The Road from Memphis, Jones and his B-3 choose to do some non-linear musical storytelling: in the title lies the key. This set reveals Jones' musical odyssey from the early days in Memphis to the places that influenced his thought and playing: the soul sounds that emerged from Detroit, Philly, and Los Angeles; all along a labyrinthine, groove-laden path into the present day. He enlisted the Roots -- the seemingly ubiquitous go-to house band of the 21st century -- with Amhir ?uestlove Thompson and Rob Schnapf as co-producers, with Dap-Kings' Gabriel Roth engineering. The Road from Memphis is loaded with treats: Detroit Funk Brother Dennis Coffey adds his trademark wah-wah and the Roots' Captain Kirk Douglas adds his jazz guitar sounds. Both men do excellent work, adding buckets of feel to Jones' B-3, ?uestlove's breaks and beats, and bassist Owen Biddle's low-end theory. Vocalists appear on some of the album's key tracks: Sharon Jones and the National's Matt Berninger duet on the slow, summery, "Representing Memphis"; My Morning Jacket's "Yim Yames" does a stunning turn as a soul singer on the Motown-inspired "Progress" (who knew?); Jones takes his own authoritative turn on the deep, funky fingerpop of "Down in Memphis" (even his voice has rhythm). And even Lou Reed gets in on the act on album-closer "The Bronx," doing his usual "real life happening on the streets" croak. It's in the instrumentals, however, that Jones reveals his story best. Opener "Walking Papers" uses the main vamp from Johnnie Taylor's classic "Who's Making Love," (he was backed by Jones and the MG's on the original), and perform it more like the "Cissy Strut"-era Meters. The reading of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" offers some of Jones most subtly inventive melodic organ work. "The Hive," "Rent Party," and "The Vamp" have exactly one transcendent idea each (how often can anyone say that about a song?); the band works them to death firing on all levels. The Road from Memphis has grease, grit, groove, and yes, greatness. Jones' story is compelling listening, but more than that , it's a backbone-slipping monster of a dance record. ~ Thom Jurek

Rock - Released April 4, 2011 | Anti - Epitaph

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Rock - Released April 21, 2009 | Anti - Epitaph

Potato Hole is Booker T. Jones' first solo album in two decades and the early buzz in the media has already termed it his most "audacious," but that's not exactly the case with this new set. It isn't audacious so much as it is moderately predictable, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Recorded quickly with producer Rob Schnapf in Georgia and California, Jones is backed here by Athens, GA's Drive-By Truckers with Neil Young sitting in on electric guitar for nine of the ten tracks, most of which were written by Jones. This isn't the MGs, and nothing here is close to being as timeless as "Green Onions," but the album is a pleasant listen with a nice, funky, and kind of grungy groove that settles into a deep pocket, even if it never really completely catches fire. There's plenty of Jones' Hammond B-3, of course, but he branches out and plays both acoustic and electric guitar on the title track, and with up to five guitars going on some tracks, this is almost as much an instrumental guitar album as it is an organ one. If there's really anything audacious here, it would be the cover of Outkast's "Hey Ya," which sputters around more than it grooves, and Jones' B-3 lines simply can't approximate the sassy joy of André 3000's original vocal. Jones also covers Tom Waits' "Get Behind the Mule," which comes off more successfully, although, again, one misses Waits' vocal. The final cut, "Space City," is a lovely chill-out instrumental while the opening track, "Pound It Out," does exactly that, pounding things out, full of fuzzed-out guitars. Young, for those wondering, doesn't take over anything here but remains the consummate session player, showing a delicate sensibility on guitar that one wishes he'd apply more often to his own work. Again, there's no "Green Onions" track here, and nothing that'll end up as everyone's ringtone. Potato Hole isn't a slab of greasy Stax soul, either. It is what it is, a new Booker T. Jones album, and hopefully it won't take another 20 years to get to the next one. ~ Steve Leggett
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Pop - Released May 10, 2011 | Anti - Epitaph

Alternative & Indie - Released November 6, 2007 | Anti - Epitaph

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