Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A great way to get your carbohydrates - Booker T.'s Potato Hole

After so many days of music dominated by the black, the bleak and the blue, a Greg-inspired change of pace today seemed like a breath of fresh air. Not that Booker T.'s latest album Potato Hole is exactly light and breezy, but it certainly is fun and funky.

I was reading a few reviews of this album today and not many of them were very complimentary - some complaining that it's not like the earlier Booker T. stuff, some saying that the percussion doesn't capture the subtleties of soul, some saying that the covers of Tom Waits ("Get Behind the Mule") and OutKast ("Hey Ya!") just don't measure up to the originals. Of course, knowing hardly anything about soul, and only a little of Tom Waits and absolutely nothing of OutKast or early Booker T., none of that mattered in the least to me, so I just listened to this album as itself.

And, for me, it just sounded great. At the end of a tiring day it boosted my energy levels like a shot of intravenous Red Bull, had me turning up the volume just a notch and then just another notch and then another, and then dancing and grooving away throughout the house (uncoordinated and out of sync, but that's not Booker T.'s fault), and suddenly everything was good with the world.

I loved the way Booker T.'s Hammond B3 and Neil Young's electric guitar (yes, Neil Young, no less) play with each other, in the sort of slightly grungy conversation that a couple of rough old blokes might have with each other on a Sunday afternoon in a beer garden. I loved the way the beat, pounding and strong though it is, backs rather than dominates the music - keeping it going but never leading it. I loved the way the opening track ("Pound It Out") sets the hairs on your arm on end with its opening bass line, and the way the closing track ("Space City") at first makes you almost think you might be in church but then, before you realise you're doing it, you're dancing and gyrating in the most unholy way imagineable.

And, for the record, I thought "Get Behind the Mule" sounded absolutely fantastic - dirty and edgy - and I am looking forward to seeing if Tom Waits does it as good.

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