If you know Steamy Windows by Tina Turner, Rainy Night In Georgia by Brook Benton, Polk Salad Annie by Elvis Presley or Willie And Laura Mae Jones by Dusty Springfield, then you know something about one side of Tony Joe White, the Swamp Fox from Louisiana. He wrote all of those and plenty more besides. Not only an accomplished songwriter, though, Tony Joe White is also recording artist and performer in his own right, singing and playing guitar on his own and other people's records and regularly touring.
Black And White was the album that followed his own 1969 US top ten hit Polk Salad Annie, the song that introduced swamp rock to the nation: funky horns, southern fried wah-wah guitar, alligator soul boogie and a voice as deep as his sideburns. There's a stack of that here, including an extra-fine version of Willie And Laura Mae Jones, as well as the earlier single Soul Francisco and four other original songs. The second side of the album consists of other people's material done the Tony Joe White way: Johnny Taylor's Who's Making Love, Slim Harpo's Scratch My Back, Roger Miller's Little Green Apples (a surprisingly effective and tender version), Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman and Dusty Springfield's (or Dionne Warwick's) The Look Of Love.
The album was produced in Nashville by Billy Swan. As a bonus, both sides of his first single, from 1967, produced by Ray Stevens, are included. You can buy a Best Of compilation, but why deny yourself the opportunity to hear an album or two in full, as intended, in the process?
on 18 November 2013
I recently had the privilege of seeing Tony Joe live in London, he played material from a lifetime of albums including this, his first. For a debut album from 40 years ago it's great the playing is fluid and tasteful, giving a good idea of what was to come. If you like Southern Blues then this album is well worth a listen
on 4 January 2014
'Polk Salad Annie' what a classic. Love Tony Joe White's music. I've had a copy of 'Home Made Ice Cream' for years now and never really listened to it. Got it down from the rack the other day and it's well good. This one (Black and White) is Tony's debut. Great album and so timeless. Highlights are the first two tracks, 'Willie and Laura Mae Jones,' 'Soul Francisco' and obviously 'Polk Salad Annie.'