Sound The Alarm

Booker T.

Stax/Concord, 2013

http://www.bookert.com

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/15/2014

Booker T. Jones is one of the most celebrated artists in soul music history. As the leader of the classic soul/funk/fusion group Booker T & The M.G’s, he was responsible for some of the biggest chart hits and seminal albums of that whole movement. Not to mention the fact that that group was the resident in-house band for Stax throughout their original reign as one of the great recording labels of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Jones has never been one to rest on his laurels, however, and has continued to work across many genres and collaborate with a seemingly endless stream of artist both old and young and everywhere in between. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Two years ago, Jones released what I believe to be his best work outside of his glory days with The M.G’s – 2011’s sublime The Road To Memphis. That album saw Jones not only embrace his history but update his trademark soul/funk sound to great effect. He chose his collaborators wisely and came up with some amazing fresh sounds. It’s clear that for that album’s follow-up and Jones’ tenth solo album Sound The Alarm, he had planned on repeating that success. Unfortunately, the resulting album just sounds flat, too generic in places and almost completely devoid of funk altogether.

The album was produced by R&B hit-making brothers Bobby Ross and Issiah Avila, who have had success with Usher and the like, but they just don’t sound like they really knew what to do here; to top things off, they also co-wrote the album with Jones. The parts that work the best are essentially the (almost) instrumental tracks that recall Jones’ classic period, like “Feel Good” and “66 Impala,” but they are few and far between. The opener “Sound The Alarm” is very Prince-like but offers nothing memorable, just as “All Over The Place” sounds tailor-made for say Usher or Ne-Yo but it offers Jones nothing to really get his chops out for, so he just doesn’t. 

“Broken Heart” is much better because it is a deliberate attempt to recall the Stax (and even Motown) sound, and they did a nice job with it, too. “Austin City Blues” is my favorite track here by far because it at least gives Jones a chance to get into a jam on that trademark B-3 and they don’t ruin it by adding vocals, so it’s a pure instrumental. 

Sound The Alarm should have been a lot better than it is considering that only two years ago, Jones delivered a classic, but that’s life I guess. It’s just too glossy and not chunky enough for my tastes and really just sounds like a missed opportunity to make something count.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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