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Main » 2011 » July » 13 » Tony Joe White - Tony Joe (1970)
11:28 PM
Tony Joe White - Tony Joe (1970)
Tony Joe was already 26 when he started recording, so perhaps that explains his style was already fully formed from the beginning onwards and that he had already written a bunch of material. He’d release 5 studio in four years and Tony Joe – his third and last album for Monument – was also a third effort in less than two years. With a pace like that, things didn’t change that strikingly: the recognizable swamp sound is still intact, even though there are perhaps a bit more acoustic songs, but the fact that four of the last five songs on the album were covers perhaps signalled that the pace was getting the best of him. Anyway, those who liked …Continued will dig Tony Joe as well. Overall the sound is perhaps a bit gruffer and there are not as many ballads, while there are several more similarities. Like the second album, Tony Joe starts off with a "primal” stomper, a soulful slice of folklore that’s pure grits and sweat. During songs like these, White sounds as if he’s from an unspecified era and a region where time stood still, modern times never really had much of an impact, and media are replaced by folk tales and a stronger bond between a man and his soil. His earliest albums all share this natural plainness and authenticity that never sounds contrived. Op top of that, White also knows how to tell a story, as "High Sheriff of Calhoun Parrish” and "Widow Wimberly” perfectly fit in some rural narrative tradition. Both songs are basically also the same merger of acoustic swamp-rock with some pop-flourishes (strings, basically), but it’s the lyrical details in the songs (the "voluptuousness” of the sheriff’s daughter in the former and the pitiable widow in the latter ("how do you still manage to smile?”) that make ‘em so nice to listen to. After these cuts, the album picks up the drive again, first with the driven "Groupy Girl,” a wonderful song that combines the tough and laidback side to White to great effect, and then with the less interesting drone "Conjure Woman,” which has a particularly flimsy chorus. I presume that the poppy "Save Your Sugar for Me” was the last song on the original
A-side, so that means the second half contained five songs, "Stockholm Blues” being the only self-penned track. It’s an excellent one – a convincingly raw, Delta blues that features nothing but acoustic guitar, harmonica and a foot stomping on the floor, so it’s not much of a surprise that it’s followed by a romp through John Lee Hooker’s "Boom Boom,” and a greasy as hell version at that. The way it starts, with White playing the distorted riff once and then asking the producer "Could you dig this, Swan?” always cracks me up. White isn’t particularly creative with it – it’s not that it wasn’t a repetitive dirge to begin with in the first place – but of course it sounds right at home on an album by this guy. The other covers are fine as well, though Otis Redding’s "Hard to Handle” is the only standout track, as the songs exactly requires the grittiness and pure soul that White possesses. Like I said, the others aren’t that great, but "What Does It Take” (later also covered by Santana), with that wailing harmonica, is the kind of stuff (a combination of pop, soul, schmalz and country) that would’ve fit perfectly on, say, the soundtrack to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. "My Friend,” finally, is the only real ballad here, a string-laden tearjerker featuring some moderately yelped vocals and some nice piano parts by David Briggs. Tony Joe doesn’t mark a stylistic shift from …Continued, as White probably still felt comfortable churning out muddy swamp drones, alternated with more pop-oriented stuff. He’d move on to a slightly different sound later on, but this is what he’s become most "famous” (well, only "Polk Salad Annie” cracked the charts I think) for. So, nothing really remarkable, certainly if you’re mainly intrigued by today’s self-conscious meta-music, but occasionally irresistible.

Produced by Tony Joe White and Billy Swan
ecorded at RCA Victor Studios, Nashville / Lyn-Lou Studios, Memphis 1970

David Briggs (keyboards)
Jerry Carrigan (drums)
Norbert Putman (bass)
Tony Joe White (guitar, vocals, harmonica)
Sammy Creason (drums on 04. + 05.)
Tommy McClure (bass on 04.)
Mike Utley (keyboards on 04. + 05.)

01. Stud-Spider (White) 5.36
02. High Sherrif Of Calhoun Parrish
03. Widow Wimberly (White) 3.41
04. Conjure Woman (White) 3.59
05. Save Your Sugar For Me (White) 2.20
06. Groupy Girl (White) 3.04
07. Hard To Handle (Isbell/Jones/Redding) 2.52

08. What Does It Take (White) 3.40
09. My Friend (Fritts/Oldham) 3.09
10. Stockholm Blues (White) 3.27
11. Boom Boom (Hooker) 7.56

ARMU 0016

Views: 538 | Added by: Riffmaster | Tags: Year Of Recording: 1970, Blues-Rock, White Tony Joe, Blues | Rating: 0.0/0
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