Picks and Pans Review: That's the Way It Should Be

updated 04/25/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/25/1994 01:00AM

Booker T. and the MG's

Critics say soul music is dead, but not if Booker T. and the MG's have their way. As the house band at Stax Records, Booker T. and the MG's played on "Knock on Wood," "Soul Man" and dozens of other classics. On their own, they were the coolest, scoring hits like "Time Is Tight" and "Green Onions." Booker T. Jones's warm, panoramic organ, Steve Cropper's gut-bucket guitar and the rock-steady bass of Duck Dunn are the personification of soul. That's the Way It Should Be is the group's first album in 17 years, and the quartet slicks to the basics: solid, no-frills R&B. Their version of Ann Peebles's classic "I Can't Stand the Rain" smolders as the rhythm section creates a grinding groove that burrows under your skin. The good news is that the funk outweighs the duds, but the duds are doozies. "Camel Ride" is a leaden excursion to nowheresville, while a cover of Janet Jackson's ballad "Let's Wail Awhile" comes off like lite-jazz Muzak. But soul is a rare commodity, so even with the goofs, if That's the Way It Should Be ain't vintage Booker T. and the MG's, it still sounds mighty sweet. (Columbia)

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