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Music

Album review: Booker T. resurrects Memphis sound with ‘Sound the Alarm’

Booker T.'s album “Sound the Alarm” on Stax Records
Booker T.'s album “Sound the Alarm” on Stax Records.
(Stax Records)

The recent reactivation of Stax Records has brought organist-producer Booker T. Jones back to the label that featured his sound on so many great recordings of the 1960s and ‘70s, including those by Otis Redding and Sam & Dave as well as his own albums, fronting Booker T. & the MG’s.

This album, produced chiefly by Jones and/or the Avila Brothers, has the hallmarks of those great Memphis sessions of yore — sultry organ work, a lithe rhythm section and lots of meaty horn accents — with touches that bring it comfortably into the 21st century.

Jones draws several guests into the spotlight — singers Estelle, Anthony Hamilton, Mayer Hawthorne, Luke James, Jay James and instrumentalists Gary Clark Jr., Raphael Saadiq, Sheila E. and the retro rock-R&B band Vintage Trouble.

“66 Impala,” which features a guest turn from Sheila E., lets Jones explore the Latin-rock corner of the R&B universe, while “Your Love Is No Love” is the closest thing to a lost Redding track on the album, a potently insistent gospel-soul track. The instrumentals “Fun,” “Feel Good,” “Austin City Blues” and, spotlighting Jones’ guitar-wielding son Ted, “Father-Son Blues” mark a welcome return to the timeless sound of the MG’s.

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Booker T.

“Sound the Alarm”

Stax

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Three stars

Albums are rated on a scale of four stars (excellent), three stars (good), two stars (fair) and one star (poor).


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