Booker T. Jones

Booker T. Jones & Nine Inch Nails Review

Soul legend Booker T. Jones of Booker T and the MG's is this week's guest on Sound Opinions. Tune in to hear Jim and Greg talk to the man behind the famous Stax Records sound in an interview taped live at this year's SXSW Music Conference. Then, hear their takes on the latest releases from Nine Inch Nails and Kings of Leon.

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reviewYear ZeroYear Zero available on iTunes

Nine Inch Nails Year Zero

Trent Reznor's new Nine Inch Nails release is making news not just for its music, but for its marketing campaign. Rather than do the standard set of interviews and appearances, Reznor launched an interactive internet scavenger hunt to explain the album's story and gain interest. The story behind Year Zero began to unfold when fans discovered that highlighted letters on a NIN concert t-shirt spelled out“I am trying to believe.”Add a .com to that, and they were led to their first clue. A series of other clues were then revealed via a network of web sites, MP3 files, videos, phone lines, and even USB drives found in concert bathrooms. Jim and Greg discuss how savvy and 21st century Reznor's guerilla marketing tactics are. While some members of the music industry mourn the death of the CD, Reznor responds by giving the consumer much more than a hard disc of music. It's the modern equivalent to the kind of interactive package and experience fans would get with the great concept albums of the previous rock era. The critics are also impressed with the album itself, which Jim explains is essentially about the end of the world. He calls Reznor a sonic architect for his ability to create amazing soundscapes with just his lap top. And, Greg notes that Reznor's voice is more expressive than it's been on previous albums. Therefore, the album and the entire experience of Year Zero get two Buy Its from both Jim and Greg.

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Booker T. Jones

When Jim and Greg were at SXSW, they were invited to interview soul legend Booker T. Jones in front of a live audience. This week, you'll get to hear some highlights of that interview. Jim and Greg start the interview by asking Booker how he became such a musical prodigy. The multi-instrumentalist, who has played tuba, piano, saxophone, guitar, oboe, and of course, most notably, organ, credits his musical family with steering him on that path. This path took him to Stax Records where he, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Jr., and Lewie Steinberg (later replaced by Duck Dunn) formed Booker T. and the MGs. While Booker was still in high school, the group recorded "Green Onions," which went on to become one of their most well-known hits.

Jim asks how Booker feels about being relegated to the role of“side man,”in music history, but the musician explains that he feels nothing but pride about being“best supporting musician.”In fact, Booker explains that being a side man elevated him as a musician and allowed him to do so much more than he would have been able to solo. Some of the people our guest has recorded with over the years include Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Ray Charles, and even Barbra Streisand.

Booker T. and the MG's not only played with an impressive cast in the studio, but on the road as well. Jim and Greg highlight his 1967 European tour with other Stax artists, and ask Booker what everyone must have been on to get that powerful, lighting fast tempos. Booker attributes that kind of energy and enthusiasm to people like Otis Redding and Al Jackson, describing them as“possessed people.”The Monterey International Pop Music Festival followed in the summer of 1967, and Booker describes this experience as one of the most eye-opening of his life. With everyone (including the Hell's Angels) collectively joining in to ensure its success, this concert was an affirmation of the values of peace and love everyone there believed in. The MGs went on to perform with Neil Young and with many artists at the Bob Dylan tribute in 1992 including George Harrison and Eric Clapton, who he dishes on later in the interview.

Performing at Monterey eventually led Booker to leave his steady stream of jobs at Stax and venture out to California. As a solo performer and producer Booker challenged himself with a number of new projects including a collection of standards for his neighbor, Willie Nelson. He also worked in the studio with Stephen Stills, Rita Coolidge, Bill Withers and Neil Young.

reviewBecause of the TimesBecause of the Times available on iTunes

Kings of Leon Because of the Times

Southern rockers Kings of Leon have a new album out called Because of the Times. The members of the Nashville quartet were just in their teens when they first got signed to a major label, and now they're on to their third album. Jim comes right out of the gate with his opinion. He explains,“I loathe this album with a bile I reserve for very special occasions.”He thought the band was fairly harmless when they were just a hipper take on The Black Crowes. But, after receiving much hype from their label and being brought on large scale tours by Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam and U2, they've added an echo-drenched, reverb-laden arena rock sound that even U2's The Edge has moved on from. Because he finds the album retro, sexist and stupid, Jim gives it a Trash It rating. Hearing Jim's review of the record makes Greg like it even more. He describes Kings of Leon as sloppy Southern rock to the core, and really likes their guitar sound. It's retro, but unapologetically so for Greg. He gives Because of the Times a Burn It.

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“Saturday Night Special”Lynyrd Skynyrd

Up next Greg drops a track into the Desert Island Jukebox. Coming off of the Kings of Leon discussion, he goes back to Southern rock's roots and chooses a song by the real kings of the genre: Lynyrd Skynyrd. He describes them as one of the most misunderstood bands of all time. Dismissed as just that bunch of yokels who sang "Freebird," Greg doesn't think they get the credit they deserve. Ronnie Van Zant, the original lead singer, and other members of the band died in a plane crash in 1977. But before that, he was able to lend a subtle sophistication to Skynyrd that other, blusier southern rock outfits didn't have. The track that best illustrates this is "Saturday Night Special." The song is an eloquent bit of social commentary about the dangers of guns — not the sort of thing you expect these folks to sing about. And unfortunately, not the sort of song that gets requested at live shows.

Featured Songs

  1. Nine Inch Nails,“Beginning of the End,”Year Zero, 2007
  2. Nine Inch Nails,“Capital G,”Year Zero, 2007
  3. Nine Inch Nails,“Greater Good,”Year Zero, 2007
  4. Booker T & the MG's,“Green Onions,”Green Onions, 1962
  5. Sam and Dave,“Soul Man,”Soul Men, 1967
  6. Booker T & the MG's,“Hip Hug-Her,”Hip Hug-Her, 1967
  7. Eddie Floyd,“Knock on Wood,”Knock on Wood, 1967
  8. Otis Redding,“Shake,”Live in Europe, 1967
  9. Otis Redding,“I've Been Loving You,”Monterey International Pop Festival Box Set, 1992
  10. Booker T & the MG's,“Medley: Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End-Here Comes The Sun/Come Together,”McLemore Avenue, 1970
  11. Willie Nelson,“Georgia On My Mind,”Stardust, 1978
  12. Bill Withers,“Ain't No Sunshine,”Just As I Am, 1971
  13. Neil Young,“You're My Girl,”Are You Passionate? 2002
  14. Booker T & the MG's,“That's the Way It Should Be,”That's the Way It Should Be, 1994
  15. Kings of Leon,“Knocked Up,”Because of the Times, 2007
  16. Kings of Leon,“McFearless”Because of the Times, 2007
  17. Kings of Leon,“Charmer,”Because of the Times, 2007
  18. Lynyrd Skynyrd,“Saturday Night Special,”Nuthin' Fancy, 1975
  19. Booker T and the MG's,“Boot-Leg,”The Best of Booker-T & the MG's, 1968
  20. The Drifters,“Answer the Phone,”I‘ll Take You Where the Music’s Playing, 1965
  21. Amy Winehouse,“Rehab,”Back to Black, 2007
  22. Sneaker Pimps,“6 Underground,”6 Underground, 1996

Footnotes

nin.com Nine Inch Nails nin.com Year Zero iamtryingtobelieve.com iamtryingtobelieve.com wikipedia.org Concept album bookert.com Booker T. Jones soulsvilleusa.com Stax Records playitsteve.com Steve Cropper drummerworld.com Al Jackson, Jr. wikipedia.org Lewie Steinberg duckdunn.com Duck Dunn allmusic.com MGs wikipedia.org“Green Onions” otisredding.com Otis Redding raycharles.com Ray Charles allmusic.com Barbra Streisand wikipedia.org The Monterey International Pop Music Festival hells-angels.com Hell's Angels amazon.com Bob Dylan tribute georgeharrison.com George Harrison ericclapton.com Eric Clapton allmusic.com Stephen Stills allmusic.com Rita Coolidge allmusic.com Bill Withers allmusic.com Are You Passionate kingsofleon.com Kings of Leon metacritic.com Because of the Times blackcrowes.com Black Crowes rcarecords.com RCA Records wikipedia.org The Edge thepentecostals.org Because of the Times wikipedia.org Southern rock allmusic.com Lynyrd Skynyrd wikipedia.org Ronnie Van Zant wikipedia.org“Saturday Night Special” wsj.com "Freebird!": Rock's Oldest Joke