" The Road From Memphis "

BOOKER T JONES The Road From Memphis Though I wasn't crazy about Booker T's prior Potato Hole, it nonetheless won a Grammy. But I have to say I find this year's edition far more appealing, where Jones is backed by the Roots band, with guest stars and well known sidemen. All but two of the eleven tunes were either written by or co-authored by Jones.

"Walking Papers" is a funky instrumental with Jones' signature B-3/MGs sound up-front. Gnarls Barkley's 2006 smash-hit "Crazy" gets the Memphis sound treatment (without vocals) and is retrofitted to Jones' signature sound with hypnotic and rhythmic guitar comps from Roots guitarist Kirk Douglas and the legendary Dennis Coffey. Jones' vocals sound fresh, and the lyrics are poignant taking us back "Down In Memphis," his only vocal performance. Lauryn Hill's "Everything Is Everything" (no vocals, and not to be confused with "Voices Inside, Everything Is Everything" made famous by Donny Hathaway) starts softly but the pace quickens to a near frenzy of swirling organ from Jones and the entire band. The groove is tight and funky on the tasty instrumental "Rent Party." Sharon Jones and Matt Berringer share vocals chores on the light and airy "Representing Memphis," easily the prettiest song on this very satisfying disc. "The Vamp" and "Harlem House" are funky instrumental jams that are both somewhat reminiscent of the MGs "Melting Pot." The album closes with "The Bronx" and features NYC's Lou Reed; it's a haunting ballad that bears similarity to a tune that could have fit on Isaac Hayes "Hot Buttered Soul."

In the end, it's great to see Jones continuing to evolve as a musician and songwriter, as most of his era's contemporaries favor rehashing the sounds and tunes they created decades ago. - Bob Putignano

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at Bob maybe contacted at:

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