Booker T Jones
"Potato Hole"

Blueswax 5
Rating 4

Digging a Big Hole For Itself, (05/14/09)

On the oddly titled Potato Hole, Booker T wrote seven of the album's ten instrumental songs, with one original by Drive-By Truckers guitarist Mike Cooley, and covers of Tom Waits' "Get Behind The Mule" and Outkasts' "Hey Ya." Potato Hole was recorded in the fall of 2008 in Georgia and California and produced by Booker T. and Rob Schnapf. Jones added guitar parts on some tracks, and Neil Young plays on nine-tenths of the album. Does that mean that this is a record hits the nail on the head? Not really. The opening "Pound It Out" is a grungy groove with most of the noise coming from the fuzzed-out guitars that play over Booker's nice-sounding B3. It doesn't work. The second track, "She Breaks," fairs better as the fuzzed-out guitars are happily turned off and Booker T introduces the tune with his immediately identifiable organ sound. It's here that the solid Soul groove meshes nicely.

The Outkasts' cover of "Hey Ya" is unfortunately flat-out lame. Even Neil Young's somewhat decent solo doesn't save this song that should have been omitted, and Booker T seems far away from his comfort zone, too. Heavy-handed guitars introduce "Native New Yorker" where the only positive is its short track length. "Nan" is another throw out that plods along aimlessly, but, hey, this one is shorter in length than "Native New Yorker!" "Warped Sister" kicks in with the guitars again as Booker tries to meld with their (unfamiliar to him) new sounds, but this track manages to work out better and has a fresh feel to it. It's easily the best tune on Potato Hole, which is not saying much, even though I have to admit that this "Warped Sister" is pretty hip.

I hope Tom Waits doesn't hear what these guys did to his "Get Behind The Mule." Yikes! Booker T's "Reunion Time" could work in name and stylistically for the MGs as it's the only song that has that true Soul feel. Not that it's a great track... The title track tries to venture into Funk land, but never arrives. And, hurray, the end is here, as 'Space City' nods me off into a deep sleep.

I am a huge Booker T & the MGs fan and enjoyed Booker's performance (without the MGs) at the Long Beach Blues Festival in California last year, but as it seems to be for many aging Rock stars who are trying to reinvent themselves, some things are better left the way the were.