Booker T Potato Hole Review

Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Proof that Jones' funky organ is still in full working order.

Louis Pattison 2009

Few have done so much for soul music as Booker T Jones, Grammy Award winner, former member of the Stax Records house band and leader of veteran soul giants Booker T And The MGs. Like many of the best genre players, though, Jones has never been one boxed in by the sound he helped created, nor has he been the sort to relax in the company of his contemporaries. Potato Hole, the soul legend's first solo album in 20 years, finds Jones reaching out to a younger generation, teaming up with Athens, Georgia alt.country rockers Drive-By Truckers for a set of cranked, enjoyable rock 'n' roll numbers that mix up country, funk and brawny rock with a Southern flavour and eyes to the dancefloor.

A fully instrumental set, Potato primarily works as a showcase for Jones' characterful Hammond organ playing; loose and funky, veering between plain but memorable melodies and more fiery, ecstatic playing, with the band falling in step behind. Also present on nine of the album's ten tracks is Jones' old buddy Neil Young, and the pair's melodic interplay provide some of Potato Hole's strongest moments: the opening, almost grungy blues of Pound It Out, Jones dashing urgent notes from amidst gnarly riffs and gutsy soloing, or the more delicate tones of Nan, two minutes where the band fall back into a soothing groove of cooing Hammond, hushed cymbals, and ringing acoustic guitar.

Perhaps the record's highlight, and certainly the track with the biggest potential to cross over, is a cover of Outkast's 2003 hit Hey Ya. Pushing the rhythm section to the fore, Jones hitting jittery notes in the verses and big, majestic washes in the chorus, it's testament to the original's timelessness and Booker's skill for reinterpretation. In fact, it's almost like he could have written it himself.

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