04/15/2009 10:32 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Best Records Of 2009! Already? (Part Two)


"I'm just shifting the balances for this one. I've always wanted to record and tour a blues project. That's where I started as a guitarist and I'm feeling that music more than ever of late. I launched a personal search for musical inspiration beyond the standard 12 bar blues and found it in "old time gospel" music - the closest relative to and inspiration for the R& B that we all love. I've always treasured Gospel but never really dug deep into it. My search led to countless songs that really move me. It's really powerful stuff. Of course, it will be Gospel done my way - all the arrangements are mine. "

That is John Scofield on his new release, "Piety Street," named after the famed New Orleans studio where the record was recorded. Scofield enlisted some of New Orleans' finest, legendary Meters' bassist George Porter Jr., Jon Cleary, John Boutte and Shannon Powell, along with current Bonnie Raitt drummer and Cleary bandmate Ricky Fataar, for a unique take on traditional gospel. Jon Cleary takes the lead vocals on the majority of the record, leaving the wonderful John Boutte with three of his own. The songs groove, with Scofield keeping his jazz fusion chops to a tasty minimum, and the band locking in for some upbeat, almost funky takes on familiar tunes.

My relentless praise for all things New Orleans, along with the mention of the word "gospel," may be exactly what turns you off about this release. I make my own eyes roll sometimes. But, "Piety Street" is a fantastic record with a great spirit and great players. It doesn't need me to gush all over it. I just do it because I want to.


Long time sideman of Nick Lowe, Geraint Watkins has been putting out records on his own since the late 70's. Sounding a lot like latter day Lowe with his laid back grooves and beautiful balladry, Watkins' new release, "In A Bad Mood," is the best of his career. Watkins will break your heart with melancholy on a song like "Champion" or wake up the Stax/Volt in you with the smooth sounds of "Fools Like Me." There is also his must hear, Cajun workout of Lowe's "Heart Of The City" and his Louis Prima-inspired version of "At Last." Great record! Go get it!


It's been a long time since we've heard a Booker T. record, but I bet it hasn't been but a minute since we've heard Booker T. In case you were unaware, the Memphis legend's organ is the driving force behind so many of America's greatest soul and R&B tunes. With the MGs, Booker T. has made magic behind Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Albert King, Johnnie Taylor, Delaney & Bonnie, and even Neil Young, which is why it shouldn't be so much of a surprise that Young is the lead guitarist on 11 of the 12 songs from "Potato Hole," the excellent new release from Mr. Jones.

Along with southern country grungers, the Drive By Truckers and the aforementioned Young, Booker T. Jones has taken his signature organ sound and the grooves that he no doubt invented, and created a brilliant collection of real Memphis grease.

From the opening Stones-inspired power chords of 'Pound It Out," Jones sets the table for a 12 course meal that is all meat and no filler. There are some choice covers alongside Jones originals including the slinky strut of Tom Waits' "Get Behind The Mule," and a genius take on Outkast's "Hey Ya!". But the centerpiece of "Potato Hole" is the title track, a funk workout with a pocket so deep, you'll need help climbing out. Buy this record now and throw a party! It's THAT good!