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

His 'Sound the Alarm' features notable guests, including Estelle, Anthony Hamilton and Gary Clark Jr.

By Randy Lewis

10:00 AM EDT, June 25, 2013

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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

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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