Review: Booker T., Potato Hole

That leaves most of the soloing up to Young (who recorded his leads at a separate session) — which certainly could've been a good thing. But his trademark corrosive tone is not much in evidence here, and his improvising comes off as halfhearted. You might even say it was phoned in, which in a way it was. The wild hair that Young puts into his best guitar work is AWOL.

The Truckers provide solid support, but not much verve. In fact, these glorified rhythm tracks tend to drag. One gets the sense that there was a mutual admiration society at work on Potato Hole. Why the disc came out so tame is hard to figure.

This album looks great on paper:

Legendary organist and Stax Records session mainstay Booker T. joins forces with the Drive-By Truckers, whose Patterson Hood is the son of Muscle Shoals bassist David Hood. Add Neil Young's lead guitar into the mix, and the result? Gritty instrumental R&B gold, right?

Not really. Potato Hole sounds like a set of 10 rhythm tracks in search of songs — melodies, vocals, that sort of stuff. As a result, while some of the music has a certain scrappy energy, the whole affair ends up being tedious.

Versions of "Hey Ya" and Tom Waits' "Get Behind the Mule" fare best, mostly because the aggregation has a melody to dig into.

Booker T. is not an improviser, a soloist of any particular skill. (Just listen to the Booker T & the MG's 1962 hit "Green Onions" — it's a quick, grabby riff with a good groove, and little else.)

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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