Pop & Rock

Booker's Back!


Booker T. Jones' new Sound The Alarm is certainly worth announcing. Any solo album by the definitive rhythm and soul Hammond B-3 organ player and frontman for arguably the greatest rhythm section in history (Booker T. & the MGs) is an event. But Sound The Alarm, which is also available on vinyl, heralds Jones' reunion with Stax Records and his first new music (he wrote or co-wrote every tune) for the label in nearly 40 years.

The opening, title track begins with stuttering samples of Stax mainstay Albert King welcoming Booker to the bandstand, introducing Mayer Hawthorne's vocal which swirls with Jones' soulful organ into its melody like a deep whirlpool. Although many tracks with vocals seem to aim at Motown sophistication, it's the instrumentals that inform Jones' new music with Stax Records' trademark, deep and earthy rhythm and blues sound.

"Fun," which puts the sound of The Bar-Kays' hit instrumental "Soul Finger" to a hand-clapping beat, is precisely that, and Jones helps kick the jack-swing groove that will sure 'nuff make you "Feel Good." In "Austin City Blues," Jones' organ sweetly considers Tennessee bourbon and Memphis BBQ, while Clark's guitar sings of toothsome slabs of tangy barbecued Texas blues guitar. Afterwards, Booker leads Poncho Sanchez and Sheila E. on a funky yet stylish cruise through an urban barrio in his "66 Impala."

Even if Sound The Alarm won't make you forget Jones' stellar history with Booker T. & the MGs, it might help you to remember.

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