Sound The Alarm by Booker T. Jones

Sound The Alarm is Booker T. Jones's third outing in four years.  Since he took a 20 year break before recording 2009's Potato Hole, it would at least appear that the famous Organist is experiencing a career rebirth.  And that's a welcome thing because, let's face it, Booker T. is a total treasure.

But, in the early 60s, who would have thought that perhaps the most talented dude in the Stax Records house band would be making music like this today?

If you haven't been informed, there's a blueprint to Booker T.'s work from the last few years, which relies on covers of recent hits like OutKast's "Hey Ya" and Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and collaborations with relevant, medium-sized, main sequence stars like Matt Berninger of The National and Sharon Jones.  It's totally a gimmick, but sometimes the results were beautiful, as on the revitalizing single "Representing Memphis" from 2011's  The Road To Memphis—without a doubt one of my favorite songs from that year. Period. 

Sound The Alarm doesn't have a song as good as that—or anything nearly close to it.  You can't really fault him for that.  But the album really suffers, because, believe it or not, Booker T. Jones's organ feels absolutely superfluous and awkward on 80% of the album.  It's fine when he's just another musician on "Broken Heart"—a particularly passionate collaboration with Jay James from Bullet For My Valentine—but that song simply doesn't call for the extended organ solo he takes in the middle.  And neither do any of these songs actually. "Can't Wait," a dance number with vocalist Estelle, is such a puzzlingly bizzare endeavor, it is almost embarassing.  The only moments where Jones seems to feel at home is when he's playin' the blues as he does on  "Father Son Blues" and "Austin City Blues."  Sadly, very dull stuff.  

There are plenty of tracks on  Sound The Alarm, where Jones feels so absent, you actually forget that it's  his album.  That may actually be a good thing!


Sound The Alarm by Booker T. Jones