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Booker T. Gets Back to Roots

Booker T. Jones

There’s a grand tradition of distinguished veterans and younger admirers pairing up to make inspired music that’s reflected in the new album from soul icon Booker T. Jones of MG’s fame.

The Road from Memphis (now available at Starbucks) finds the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer teamed with powerhouse Philly hip-hoppers the Roots, who complement Booker T.’s sinewy organ lines a la the MG’s on ‘60s instrumental grooves like “Time Is Tight” and “Hang ‘em High.” Meanwhile, guest vocalists Sharon Jones, Yim Yames from My Morning Jacket, Matt Berninger from the National and Lou Reed add diversity and flair to the mix.

It’s worth noting that, while the Roots have been around a couple of decades, its members weren’t yet born when Booker T. and Memphis cohorts Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn and Al Jackson wrote the book on how to play soul music, serving as the house band for Stax Records in its heyday and releasing instantly identifiable records of their own. The group’s first and biggest hit, “Green Onions” has been employed in numerous movies as a handy shortcut that screams “OK, people, now we’re in the ‘60s!” Works every time. And the song never gets old!

The Road from Memphis goes to show that great music unites rather than divides generations, and that the roots of the Roots reach back to Booker T.

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